Nevada Shakespeare Company is reminding audiences in northern Nevada that Ebenezer Scrooge still holds the title of biggest holiday humbug with a stellar production of “A Christmas Carol.”
Coming off of an amazing performance of Shakespeare’s “Macbeth” in October, the Nevada Shakespeare Company picked the traditional holiday classic by Charles Dickens, which has made characters like Scrooge and Tiny Tim some of the most well-known literary personalities of all time.
Nevada Shakespeare’s board of directors president and “A Christmas Carol” producer Cameron Crain stepped onto the Laxalt Auditorium stage in Reno Saturday and delivered a truly charismatic version of the stuffy Scrooge.
Able to make the hated man lovable, Crain’s Scrooge not only laughs at himself but makes audience members laugh with him. Nevada Shakespeare cuts the normally lengthy tale of bad attitude and redemption to a shorter version that runs about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
In that time, Scrooge’s nephew, the overly kind and caring Fred played by Lucas Peterson, tries yet again to get Scrooge out of the dark holiday cloud that looms around his penny-pinching brain, just before Scrooge sees what his hateful attitude has done, is doing and will do.
Visited by the ghost of his dead business partner, Jacob Marley, played by Jim Lund, Scrooge isn’t sure if it is anything more than a joke but Marley makes one thing clear: It’s never too late to change your ways.
Scrooges heeds Marley’s warning but does not believe the eerie apparition until the Ghost of Christmas Past, so playfully performed by Michele Gellar-Crain, takes Scrooge on a trip through time to visit himself as a lonely boy on Christmas and as an even lonelier young man consumed by a love of money.
Still unsure about changing, the Ghost of Christmas Present, played by John Blomberg, starts to get Scrooge’s heart beating again when he allows Scrooge to view the humble, yet warm and cheery, Christmas celebration of his employee, Bob Cratchit, played by Brad Martin.
Cue Tiny Tim. The classic Dickens character limps onto stage but keeps a innocent and youthful energy that elicits audience participation. Played by Benjamin Reynolds, Tiny Tim sings “Away in the Manger” to the audience as the Cratchit family delights in holiday celebration. The audience then sings alongside Reynolds, who amazingly stays right on point.
Moved by Tiny Tim’s not-so-good prognosis, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Future, played by AJ Gonzales. When Scrooge realizes his death is being celebrated and the death of Tiny Tim is being mourned, his heart grows 10 sizes and he vows to change his ways.
The best part about Crain playing Scrooge is his ability to make the character into an everybusinessman who has lost his sense of moral direction because of his fixation on money, whereas other films and interpretations portray him as a frail and hateful man.
Scrooge now has a sense of human warmth and even laughs and dances. At intermission he sings carols with the audience and brings children on stage with him. Now, that Scrooge can’t be bad, can he?
Ultimately, “A Christmas Carol” leaves audience members with a reminder about what is important this holiday season: family and friends.
Nevada Shakespeare will perform “A Christmas Carol” again Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s performance at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday’s performances at 2 p.m. will be held in the Frank Sinatra Showroom at the Cal Neva Resort and Spa located at 2 Stateline Road in Crystal Bay. Saturday’s performance at 7:30 p.m. will be held at the Resort at Squaw Creek located at 400 Squaw Creek Road, Olympic Valley, Calif.
Tickets are $35 and $25 for adults and $15 for children. Tickets can be purchased online at www.laketahoeshakespeare.com/tickets/holiday or by calling (800) 747-4697. For more information about the Nevada Shakespeare Company, visit www.nevada-shakespeare.org.