Nineworks Theatrical with the help of Globe Live brought back Christmas Carol for a second run of spreading holiday cheer. The re-imagined Carol had no semblance of a replay of the 2016 spectacular. With the intention of keeping everything fresh, everything except for the script was rehashed and the output is a more delicate presentation of "home". The staging was pretty much a well loved Christmas tree. It was a luminous collection of ornaments that reflect our loved ones. It's that beautiful tradition that ignites the Christmas spirit like no other.
Nowadays, hate and hopelessness has become a norm. Hope is no longer accessible to all. We've produced thousands of Scrooges through the years making this production's story relevant and even necessary. The famous Christmas tale about a person bruised by life finding hope with the help of three ghosts truly is art imitating life. What a wonderful thing it was to see art used to create a paradigm shift. Certainly there was more than one Scrooge who found hope and happiness the night I watched. This was production was a quick fix of fun and it is a story (and a staging) that reminds you that the miracle is indeed within us all.
Miguel Faustman who took on the titular role of Ebeneezer Scrooge has done this show over a hundred times. Despite this, there is a freshness in his performance. This time around there was more delicacy. The story requires a lot of dramatics but Faustman delivers a quieter bitterness that resonates. At a certain point he quite frankly shocked me with a lively tap routine. Kudos to Director Robbie Guevara and choreographer Yek Barlongay for pushing an already awesome artist beyond his comfort zone.
Chameleon Noel Rayos delivered an unbelievable performance in multiple character sketches. He skipped in and out of different roles with so much vigor and enthusiasm. As Marley (Scrooge's best friend who returns from the dead), Rayos was dark and earthy delivering his lines with harrowing emotion. In contrast he was comical as Mr. Fezziwig. His vibrant personality certainly came out in his spirited dancing. As if that wasn't enough to convince the audience of his versatility,he came out and performed cycling tricks on stage in the final scenes of the show. Truly he was valuable member of this cast.
Laurence Mossman and Mitzi Lao individually were pitch perfect with the quality and tone of their voices perfectly matching the emotional content of Menken's classic songs. But together the partnership seemed friendly at best.
The production can boast of colorful production sequences featuring high powered technical dancing. I was truly delighted to see the actors pull off triple threat exhibitions. Numbers like Mr. Fezziwig's Christmas ball and Abundance and Charity were athletic highlights that added to the show's entertainment value. There's actually more dancing in this show. It was a commendable effort from choreographers PJ Rebullida and Yek Borlongay. It must be said however that the bigger than life staging of the previous run was far superior than this one. For instance the staging of The Ghost of Future was like a scene from "Thriller" rather than a sophisticated interpretation of painful regret. It was a bit caricature-ish rather than organically spooky. I also could no longer recognize any real fluid movement. Some of the sequences looked quite cramped with an injury waiting to happen. It is difficult not to compare because the previous staging spelled out grandiosity and purposeful movement. Nonetheless someone with fresh eyes will surely not complain at all. It was still a dynamic display of actors' skills.
The rectangular stage was adorned with a multi layered surrealist old London set by Ed Lacson. It acted as the magic box that kept on revealing spurts of magic from unexpected places. The windows that depicted homes also opened dramatically revealing ghoulish creature. The angularity of the design allowed the stage to adapt to each of drastic scene changes. While I thought it was a wonderful set, I did miss the intimacy of the old multilevel set experience. The immersive quality that the 2016 run generously provided was somewhat diminished.
Intelligence and Empathy
Robbie Guevara directed this show with a relentless pursuit of finding new layers to the material. His approach shows a huge amount of intelligence and empathy. I appreciated the highlighted presence of the three ghosts as a triad in the first act and the finale because it made Scrooge's experience realistic. Don't we all feature real faces of people we've encountered in our dreams?
It must have taken a lot of heart to see that the children roles of story are the key to unlocking the story's hope. This time the children were presented ever so tenderly. What people saw was not simply their cuteness level but the clear picture of untainted hearts. While their voices were velvety soft their message was potent. Scrooge was changed by them. To see a child change an adult with their kindness warms the heart. At the very end, everyone sings the words " Let the stars in the sky, remind us of man's compassion. Let us love till we die and God bless us everyone". The power of that message is amplified with the children singing it to the audience like a mantra. It was a reminder to see life lovingly through a child's eyes. Kindness and compassion are far more important than any other concern.
At the end of the day, he produced a show that delivers a snowfall of love. Like the uniqueness that every snowflake owns, Christmas Carol 2.0 was special in its own beautiful way. It is a gift of a heartwarming experience. Take a chance. Find hope and happiness in a different place. Create new traditions and enjoy this gift from Globe Live and Nineworks Theatrical.
Its last remaining shows from Dec 21-22, 26-27 at 8pm and Dec 17 and 25 at 7pm.
For tickets to A CHRISTMAS CAROL, contact Ticketworld at 891-9999! Happy Holidays!🎄