Wednesday, December 15, 2021

"A Christmas Carol" at the Guthrie Theater

The Guthrie Theater's first production post-pandemic (not counting their hosting of the Broadway tour of What the Constitution Means to Me) is their annual tradition, A Christmas Carol. This is their 47th production, and my 15th time seeing it. It's obviously a beloved holiday* tradition in the #TCTheater community, one that I also love and have rarely missed in my 18 seasons as a subscriber. But why? Why do they keep doing it? Why do people keep seeing it? Why do I go back year after year? Read on for ten reasons to see the Guthrie's A Christmas Carol this year before it closes on December 27.

Why should you see A Christmas Carol this year? Here are ten reasons:

  1. The world premiere of a brand new adaptation by Lavina Jadhwani, that stays true to the original story, telling it succinctly and effectively, emphasizing Scrooge's willing participation in his transformation.
  2. The Guthrie's Artistic Director Joseph Haj's first time directing this classic onstage, bringing an urgency to the story and smoothly handling all of the time, location, and tone shifts.
  3. An all new set design by Matt Saunders that is stunning, effective, and haunting, and features many moving parts and pieces including rotating concentric circles, a sliding backdrop of London buildings, a massive two-story rotating piece that is Scrooge's abode, and too many charming details to mention (the tiny houses!).
  4. Gorgeous and lush Victorian costumes (designed by Toni-Leslie James) that range from rich and deeply colored gowns and suits with every imaginable detail, to the modest garb of the lower classes, to the colorful and fantastical costumes of the ghosts.
  5. Broadway actor Matthew Saldivar's younger and more vital Scrooge, who visibly and believably transforms from a man suffering deep pain to a skipping and giggling delight.
  6. This dreamy and mostly local cast, including Kurt Kwan descending from the ceiling as the wise Ghost of Christmas past; Regina Marie Williams as the jolly Ghost of Christmas Present; Rush Benson embodying the scariest Ghost of Christmas Future I've seen; John Catron as the good clerk Cratchit; Charity Jones (who has previously played Scrooge) in another pants role as the ghost of Marley; Michael Hanna as Scrooge's charming nephew (filling in for Eric Sharp the night I saw the show); Paul de Cordova as good old Fezziwig; Summer Hagen, Cat Bridisi, and China Brickey as the Fezziwig daughters; up-and-coming actor Clay Man Soo as young Scrooge; and NBD ensemble members Nathaniel Fuller (a prior Scrooge), Rajané Katurah, and Tyler Michaels King.
  7. Beautiful and festive Victorian Christmas carols (see #6 for the gorgeous voices included, with music direction by Mark Hartman), and lovely dancing and movement that leaves you wanting more (choreography by Regina Peluso).
  8. An always welcome visit to the big beautiful blue building on the river, with its incredible views, unique architecture, and cozy spaces open daily to the public (although on a somewhat limited basis at the moment).
  9. The comfort of a tradition that yearly brings us back to a familiar place and feeling.
  10. Most importantly, because we need Dickens' message of kindness, generosity, and shared humanity now more than ever. God bless us every one, indeed.
Matthew Saldivar as Scrooge with the cast
(photo by Jenny Graham)