CENTERVILLE – It’s the little things that make a memory.
This is the second year CenterPoint Legacy Theatre has celebrated the holiday season with “Madison Square Garden’s A Christmas Carol,” and the third if you count Rodgers Memorial Theatre’s last season. Though time has made some of the spectacle seem familiar, the emotional grace notes in this year’s production make it the best of the three.
The show follows Dicken’s classic tale, with the addition of more music and dancers to give the production a grander feel. It’s the acting, however, that makes this production truly great. Chuck Gilmore was a fantastic Scrooge in the opening night cast, giving the character’s bitterness some much-needed nuance.
I’m certain the line has been there in previous years, but Gilmore was the first Scrooge who really made me understand a large part of his hard-heartedness toward his nephew. His beloved sister died giving birth to the boy, and Gilmore makes the grief and resentment achingly clear.
Galen Chatterton, playing Jacob Marley, made the character’s appearance both tragic and terrifying. The idea that the spirit was strong enough to reach back into the world of the living made complete sense to me. Adam West gave Bob Cratchit a sense of dignity that deepened the character.
The best part, however, came through the combined efforts of Gilmore, director Anthony Buck, Andrew Hahn as young Marley and Kurt Christensen as young Scrooge. In this production, the enthusiastic young Scrooge seems truly shocked by his fiancee’s leaving, and Marley’s attempts to comfort him seem warm and genuine.
Then it’s implied that Marley dies almost immediately afterward С a decision not made in other productions I’ve seen С and you can almost see young Scrooge curl in on himself in reaction to the two blows coming so close together. It’s beautifully done, and gives real credence to the idea that Scrooge could find his heart again in a single night.
The show also has plenty of visual appeal. Choreographer Maggy Lawrence does beautiful work with an early, spooky number starring the haunted dead. Costume designer Tammis Robbins Boam did wonderful things with the Ghost of Christmas Future, eschewing the traditional Grim Reaper look for something that managed to be both exotic and frightening. The director also made the excellent choice of expanding the action into the audience.
In the end, though, it’s Scrooge and Marley who will stay with me.