Parkland Press

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Theater Review: Civic again keeps 'Christmas Carol' well

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 by DOUGLAS GRAVES Special to The Press in Focus

If you don't feel the Christmas spirit after seeing "A Christmas Carol," through Dec. 21 at Civic Theatre of Allentown, you might get a lump of coal in your Christmas stocking.

This terrifically well-done production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is directed and choreographed by William Sanders. The play was adapted by Sanders and Sharon Lee Glassman for the Civic production. It couldn't be better.

From the scary, green-gilled Ghost of Jacob Marley (John Kuchar) to the angelic Ghost of Christmas Past (beautiful Nia Clements), the ethereal characters are bigger than life. Kuchar and Clements conquer these roles with great skill.

Ebenezer Scrooge's (Kirk Lawrence-Howard) transformation from penny-pinching, Christmas-hating curmudgeon to beloved Uncle Ebenezer is great, believable fun to watch. Lawrence-Howard is perfect in this most challenging role.

Scrooge is depicted at different ages in his life by three young players -- all doing it very well. Zane Childs is delightful as the six-year old Scrooge. Paul Dobson is the 13-year old Scrooge and 21-year old Scrooge is played by Ryan MacNamara, who also plays the Storyteller. McNamara gets a great third rôle -- but let's not give away too much.

The Ivy Cast of children was on the boards Dec. 7 for this review. The talented youths turned in a great performance.

Of the child actors, Rachel Knappenberger as Badger Bucket is priceless. Her singing voice and ensemble leadership seems beyond her years.

Robert Pierno as Tiny Tim is great.

Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's long suffering clerk and father of a large family, is believably played by Jeffrey D. Jones.

Paul Knappenberger, in his first stage appearance, is convincing as the First Solicitor and, in a second role, is fine as Mr. Fezziwig.

One of his daughters, Belle, the love interest of the young Scrooge, is played with great sensitivity and charm by Megan Van-Spanje.

Two well-executed parts are Ignorance (Jace Hinkle) and Want (Sora Debello). They are spectral characters that remind us that not everyone has a merry Christmas.

Miriya Fratrik shines as one of the Storyteller's audience of urchins.

Kelly Herbert-James' Mrs. Cratchit beautifully shows the painful experience of being the mother of a large family without enough money.

Amanda Mitchell's The Ghost of Christmas Past is spectacularly well done. Mitchell's personality shines as she works her charm on Scrooge.

Michael Lotito's Old Joe was very entertaining as he buys Scrooge's personal effects.

The Heralds for Ghost of Christmas Past -- Angelina Dougherty, Aryssa Ellerbee, Julia Marks and Sarah Mazzetti are standouts.

Costume and Lighting Design by Will Morris is super. Morris' skill with his lighting schemes enhances Jason Sherwood's beautiful set design with a master's touch. Morris is also Technical Director.

Great sound effects make up an integral part of the production. Hats off to Sound Designer Helena Confer.

With such a large cast of talented children doing complex routines, kudos are due to Assistant Director for Young Actors Joann Wilchek Basist.