A Christmas Carol
nytheatre.com review by Rohana Elias-Reyes
November 22, 2009
Literally Alive Children's Theatre's A Christmas Carol gives the feeling of an enthusiastic community theatre production. The acting and singing ability in the 22-person cast, which includes a 12-member children's chorus, varies widely. Some performers seem never to have set foot on a stage before, others are quite credible, and most employ an exuberant indicative style. The design is colorful, but modest, and the script is a more or less direct adaptation of the story of miserly and misanthropic Scrooge changing his ways and embracing Christmas and humanity after a particularly rough night with four ghosts.
There are, however, two things that make this show quite special. The first is the music. The original score by the father/daughter team of Michael and Emily Sgouros is fun and evocative, and a trio (including Mr. Sgouros) performing live on upwards of 30 percussion instruments including sleigh bells, marimba, and kettledrums, adds excitement to the proceedings.
The other notable thing is the company's sincerity in sharing Dickens's most famous tale with very young children. Care is taken in the pre-show discussion, which takes about 20 minutes, to make even the youngest children comfortable. Two company members sit on the edge of the stage and talk directly to the kids in the audience about theatrical elements that might scare them, including moments of darkness, moody music, and ghost costumes. After the demonstration, children are invited on to the stage for a 20-minute craft-making activity. With all the pre-show discussion and activities, by time the show started, the children were quite comfortable in the theatre. And you know what? My kids (famous for skittishness) didn't get scared at all. In fact, they enjoyed themselves immensely and we had one of the more interesting conversations we've had after a show.
If it's the thought that counts, then Literally Alive's A Christmas Carol is quite a generous holiday gift indeed and it is certainly small-child friendly; though at as much as $40 a ticket, you may be doing a little generous giving yourself.