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THEATER REVIEW: A Christmas Carol

by Chris Conley

I've been away on vacation for the last few days, but I'm happy to share a theater review with you. I'll return to The WSAU Wisconsin Morning News on Monday.

The Wausau Community Theater would like you and your family to make their production of A Christmas Carol an annual tradition. Like watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer or Its A Wonderful Life , theyll mount the show each year, and hope that youll decide that it isnt Christmas without it.

And why not?

Ive talked with some New York City friends, and theyve told me that one by one the old holiday traditions of my childhood have been altered and downgraded. The Macys Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree lighting have become made-for-TV events, and the joy of being there in person is now closer to being in a studio audience. The Radio City Christmas Spectacular has been shortened and sped-up no more dance of the sugar plum fairies and no more celebrity-guest-hosts. A musical version of A Christmas Carol was going be a new New York City holiday-tradition, but it wasnt quite good enough for the ticket prices that the Cablevision corporate-types who run Madison Square Garden wanted to charge. It was shuttered a few years ago.

There are many things to like about the Wausau Community Theater production. I love the open-casting. Youll see friends, neighbors, and their kids on stage. This is a great entry-point to community performance for people whod like to give it a whirl. And its a useful tool for Wausau Community Theater to maximize its accessibility. Ryan Yde, who writes commentaries for WSAU, is back in this years production with a more-challenging role than a year ago. Amy Snyder, Pats daughter, has found time to take a part again too.

Brad Drake is a good Ebenezer Scrooge. He reminded me of John Houseman who should have played the role during his career but never did. Drake is mean without completely shutting the door on transformation, and he turns into a convincing jolly old elf by the end of the night. Jeff McDonald wears his locks and chains well as the ghost of Jacob Marley. Zach Hagenbucher rode the line of kindly-yet-firm as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Scott Sargent, as Mister Fezziwig, clearly loved his daughters and knew how to throw a Victorian-English party and what more could we ask? Carolers hearing some of my Christmas favorites in harmony was a highlight of the evening.

Theres no good reason not to make A Christmas Carol a new holiday tradition. Ive seen it three years in a row, and enjoyed it each time. This year I looked forward to it ever since my tickets arrived and itll be on my to-do list next year.

Chris Conley
Operations Manager-Midwest Communications, Wausau

The final performance of A Christmas Carol from Wausau Community Theater is Sunday at 2pm at the Grand Theater in Wausau.

Robert Doucette [Attribution], via Wikimedia Commons