Trin­ity Rep puts another fresh spin on clas­sic

Woonsocket Call - - ARTS - By KATHIE RALEIGH

PROV­I­DENCE — Trin­ity Reper­tory Company’s pro­duc­tion of “A Christ­mas Carol” is dif­fer­ent ev­ery year, but this year’s it­er­a­tion is so very dif­fer­ent – in won­der­ful ways.

For starters, it’s per­formed in the round, which draws au­di­ences into the ac­tion. The set is min­i­mal but those few pieces and props are put to cre­ative use.

There are in­ter­est­ing new char­ac­ter­i­za­tions: Scrooge’s nephew Fred now is a niece, Fred­erika; the house­keeper, Mrs. Dil­ber, now is a Mr. There is dif­fer­ent mu­sic, lots of show-stop­ping danc­ing, and a Scrooge who joins the ranks of the all-time best – as does the en­tire pro­duc­tion.

The vi­sion starts with direc­tor Kate Bergstrom, a grad­u­ate of the Brown/Trin­ity Rep mas­ter’s de­gree pro­gram who has di­rected lit­er­ally from coast to coast. Here she re-imag­ines the telling of Charles Dick­ens’ fa­mil­iar tale and even changes a few scenes; Scrooge now con­sumes his Christ­mas Eve gruel sit­ting alone in a tav­ern in­stead of at home. How­ever, Bergstrom never loses sight of the emo­tions or mes­sage.

She is sup­ported by an in­spired cre­ative team, in­clud­ing chore­og­ra­pher Taavon Gam­ble, who cre­ates a mem­o­rably joy­ous and, no doubt, de­mand­ing dance scene for the Fezzi­wig Christ­mas party. Es­pe­cially ef­fec­tive sound ef­fects are cred­ited to de­sign­ers who work as Bro­ken Chord. When the door to Scrooge’s of­fice opens, for ex­am­ple, street sounds can be heard. Omi­nous sounds presage the Ghosts’ vis­its.

Mu­sic direc­tor Michael Rice makes the mu­sic a plea­sure of its own, whether drawn from Richard Cum­ming’s orig­i­nal score or from other sources, such as “The Sor­cerer’s Ap­pren­tice,” which fig­ures briefly and ap­pro­pri­ately in one scene.

A multi-eth­nic cast and those changed gen­ders give the show a con­tem­po­rary feel, and it’s wel­come. The cast com­prises Trin­ity Company mem­bers, Brown/Trin­ity Rep

MFA stu­dents, and lo­cal chil­dren.

Jude Sandy is a stand-out Scrooge, con­nect­ing his ill will to his own dis­ap­point­ments and his redemp­tion clearly to his ex­pe­ri­ences with the Ghosts. Sandy plays both sides with hon­est emo­tion but also great fun.

Ev­ery char­ac­ter has note­wor­thy mo­ments, some with comic touches, like Ri­cardy

Fabre’s Bob Cratchit, ir­re­press­ible even un­der Scrooge’s evil eye; Ha­ley Schwartz as a de­ter­mined Fred­erika; Michael Rosas and the inim­itable Stephen Thorne as Solic­i­tors for the Poor who are re­buffed by Scrooge. Rachael War­ren raises the bar on por­tray­als of the Ghost of Christ­mas Present, be­ing both hi­lar­i­ous and se­ri­ous.

This year’s en­sem­ble of chil­dren is ap­peal­ing – and tal­ented. To­gether, they sing and join in the spec­tac­u­lar dance num­bers but also cre­ate in­di­vid­ual per­son­al­i­ties. Two casts, Red and Green, al­ter­nate per­for­mances, and on opening night, the Red Cast’s Karyss Wil­liams was a scene-stealer as the “Turkey Gal,” the young­ster a re­formed Scrooge re­cruits to buy a hu­mon­gous turkey for the Cratchit fam­ily.

As many fresh and dif­fer­ent as­pects as there are in Trin­ity’s 42nd in­car­na­tion of “A Christ­mas Carol,” they fit well with tra­di­tion. The pro­duc­tion is warm when it should be, eerie in all the right spots, and un­fail­ingly entertaini­ng.

Per­for­mances of Charles Dick­ens’ “A Christ­mas Carol” con­tinue through Dec. 29 at Trin­ity Rep, 201 Washington St. Tick­ets start at $27 and are avail­able on­line or by con­tact­ing the box of­fice at 401-3514242.

Pho­tos by Mark Turek

The cast of A Christ­mas Carol. By Charles Dick­ens, with orig­i­nal mu­sic by Richard Cum­ming. Di­rected by Kate Bergstrom. Set de­sign by Patrick Lynch, cos­tume de­sign by Oliv­era Ga­jic, light­ing de­sign by Bar­bara Sa­muels, and sound de­sign by Bro­ken Chord.

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