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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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‘A Christmas Carol’ a gift from freeFall Theatre

“A Christmas Carol”? Ah, yes. You’ve seen that chestnut so many times on television you’re ready to roll your eyes at the thought of another Disney-like cartoon. Canned and pickled, you think. As eternal as a Twinkie.

Well, think again.

FreeFall Theatre’s musical version of this holiday fare is as lively and flavorful as a home-cooked feast that comes without preservatives.

No corn syrup here, just highly professional staging and costumes, beautiful (and traditional) music, special effects and smooth performances by all.

This is the third year freeFall has mounted the production, which is presented in the round, thereby allowing the audience to enjoy close contact with the performers.

The excellent Steven Patterson as Scrooge holds the story together, prowling the stage, as lean and hungry as a caged animal.

“He was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, solitary as an oyster,” sing the cast members, who range from children to seasoned professionals.

Many of them take on multiple roles when they are not in the chorus. You will see all the familiar characters from the Dickens’ tale, from a pale Tiny Tim (6-year-old William Garrabant) to a rotund, hugely costumed Mrs. Fezziwig (Sara DelBeato).

Director Eric Brandon Davis (who also performs) keeps the action going at a brisk pace as the ensemble delivers Charles Dickens’ timeless tale of a miser redeemed by his ghosts.

You will seldom forget the hearty Jerry Gallagher, who plays the ghost of Christmas Present. As tall as a Christmas tree, he fills the stage with an Irish brogue. Nor will you shake off the silent, totally frightening, 10-foot-tall specter of death that is Christmas Future (Nick Orfanella hidden under a cloak).

The opening night audience included children. One of them, a boy of perhaps 6 years of age, was transfixed the entire evening at the sight of the singing, dancing performers and the magic of live theater happening only a few feet away from him.

Never mind the video versions of this tale. Here was a story delivered direct, in person and fresh.

This treat was not from a can, and it was not humbug.

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