Everyone loves A Christmas Carol. It’s a time-honored, beloved Christmas classic that we never grow tired of. Frankly, it simply wouldn’t be Christmas without at least a few Scrooge references or a little “God bless us, every one” being thrown around during this most wonderful and holly-jolliest time of the year. And we owe Mr. Dickens much of the credit for all that. Of the countless performances of A Christmas Carol that have been put on by everyone from high school drama clubs to Broadway professionals to Hollywood film crews, it’s hard to get a completely lousy production of this holiday masterpiece. It’s just too good a show. But, that said, it’s equally rare to witness a stellar performance that really manages to stand out, to surpass the others, and to do something that everyone else hasn’t already done a hundred times before. Le Petit Theatre’s rendition of A Christmas Carol, playing now thru December 23, does precisely that.
Everything is very well executed with this show. The costumes and sets are perfectly Victorian. The special effects (sound effects, video backdrops, etc.) add another dimension to the performance that goes above and beyond the norm and really works. The acting is excellent, and—the theater is proud to announce—features 20 young artists from their newly launched Young Conservatory Program. Though everyone on stage is extremely talented, a special shout-out should go to Bob Edes Jr. in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge. His performance is so animated, dynamic, and emotional that he really steals the show. Another nice touch that gives this particular production that special edge is its nod to New Orleans. When the Ghost of Christmas Present throws purple, green, and gold confetti all over the stage, it’s a good way to bring a little NOLA into Dickens’s Victorian England, and a friendly reminder that we have another fun and festive holiday to look forward to soon after the Christmas festivities have wrapped up. And finally, the Ghost of Christmas Future looks like he just stepped out of some version of Christmas hell and is so creepily portrayed, he’s enough to scare the jingle right out of you.
The humor and happiness, the sympathy and sorrow of this story may have originated with Dickens, but it takes a lot of competent and gifted people to bring his words to life as successfully as the folks at Le Petit have done—and even to even go beyond that. Curtis Billings, who helped adapt this production for the theater and also plays Bob Cratchit, talks about how this particular version is meant to be a mixture of the classic tale and a more creative interpretation. “I think the driving force was going in to the story with fresh eyes,” says Billings. “We did take some liberties and flights of fancy, but we tried to avoid anything that wasn’t grounded in the story. It is my favorite story, be it a play or film or the book itself, of all time. Then the goal becomes how to theatricalize it.”
Come see this show. Much like Scrooge feels after discovering the true meaning of Christmas, seeing A Christmas Carol at Le Petit Theatre this season will have you feeling “light as a feather, as happy as an angel, and as merry as a school-boy [or girl].” It’s almost as good as Christmas morning!
Congrats to the cast and crew of this memorable adaptation of such an important piece of holiday theater. They have done an excellent job of bringing the show to the stage. God bless them, every one.
A Christmas Carol is showing through December 23 at Le Petit Theatre, 616 St. Peter St., 504-522-2081. Show times vary. Go to lepetittheatre.com for more information and to buy tickets.
All photos by Brittney Werner.