THEATER REVIEW (WSAU) There’s something wonderful happening with Wausau Community Theater’s “A Christmas Carol”. Now in its sixth year, it is indeed becoming a holiday tradition. More people are auditioning, so the cast gets stronger from one year to the next – especially in the supporting roles. The box office seems to be strong; the Saturday night performance I attended drew a large crowd. I believe people are now anticipating this show. I’d been looking forward to it for weeks.
The quality of this year’s production is very good. Dan Drenk is understated but effective – a welcome change from seeing Scrooge played as an almost cartoonish grouch. Old Ebenezer’s transformation is even more effective if he’s portrayed as real flesh-and-bones. He was surrounded by an excellent Bob Cratchit in Brian Zell. Jeff McDonald as the ghost of Jacob Marley almost eats the scenery as he visits his old partner.
This is an open-casting production – there’s a role for everyone who wants to be a villager or caroler. WCT reports that the number of people auditioning was up sharply. That’s reflected in the quality that was seen in many of the smaller parts. Maurice Schaus was delightful as Scrooge’s nephew Fred. Hannah Holbach did well as Belle, Scrooge’s fiancée from years ago, and as our closing narrator. Kelly Taylor Schaus and Zachary Hagenbucher were in good spirit, past and present respectively. The caroling was well-sung, both in the lobby and on-stage. There have even been small enhancements to the set compared to past years.
When I was younger my Christmas in New York included an annual trip to Radio City Music Hall to see the Rockettes. Years later, the Philharmonic’s performance of ‘The Messiah’ became tradition. In Connecticut the town-square tree lighting and evening caroling was on the must-do list. In Wausau, ‘A Christmas Carol’ is every-bit-as-good of a holiday season-starter.
My 7-year-old twins were my theater-companions this night. Rachael declared it “a magical night” as we were leaving the theater. Her dad agrees.
There’s one performance of A Christmas Carol remaining this season. It’s at 2pm Sunday at the Grand Theater in Wausau.
Here is an archive of earlier theater reviews:
THE BEST LITTLE WHOREHOUSE IN TEXAS (Nov 9, 2012)
CAMELOT (Oct 26, 2012)
ANNIE (Sept 4, 2012)
LEGALLY BLONDE – THE MUSICAL (Aug 2, 2012)
A CHORUS LINE (Jun 21, 2012)
DR DOLITTLE (Mar 17, 2012)
A CHHRISTMAS CAROL – 2011 (Dec 18, 2011)
MAN OF LAMANCHA (Nov 6, 2011)
DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS (Oct 23, 2011)
OKLAHOMA(Sept 8, 2011)
EVITA (Aug 8, 2011)
THE PHILADELPHIA STORY (Jul 23, 2011)
SMOKEY JOES CAFE (Jun 23, 2011)
KISS ME, KATE (Apr 17, 2011)
HELLO DOLLY! (Mar 11, 2011)
PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Feb 18, 2011)
A CHRISTMAS CAROL - 2010 (Dec 17, 2010)http://wsau.com/blogs/post/cconley/2010/dec/18/review-christmas-carol/
THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK (Nov 4, 2010)
PIRATES OF PENZANCE (Sept 17, 2010)
MISS SAIGON (Aug 8, 2010)
RENT (June 18, 2010)
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF (Mar 5, 2012)