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Monday, December 14, 2009
A Christmas Carol at PCS
Is there a tale that has been staged, filmed, parodied and otherwise adapted as many times as Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol? Even the Muppets have their own full-length version starring Michael Caine. Personally speaking, my favorite is Bill Murray's Scrooged, which easily holds the title for Best Ghost of Christmas Future.
Portland Center Stage's production of A Christmas Carol has become an annual tradition at the Gerding Theater. It's a far more traditional take on the tale than Murray's riff but there are a few deviations that keep things interesting.
Scrooge's back story gets a bit more attention than in other adaptations and the Ghost of Christmas Past is diced into three younger incarnations of his former self. The tormented Jacob Marley is guided by a series of chains that reach up into the rafters over the stage and drag him back to the underworld after he delivers his cautionary prophesy in Scrooge's bed chamber. Also: the Ghost Christmas Present has a really neat magic wand.
The production makes excellent use of the theater's stage with a series of rotating sets, special effects and several cast members that appear in multiple roles, which must make costume changes backstage a challenge. Ebbe Roe Smith's Scrooge is a bit over the top at moments but at no point does he disappear into easy caricature.
Overall, it's a tradition that deserves to become as long-running as the Oregon Ballet's annual production of The Nutcracker.