Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Caravan's 2016 'A Christmas Carol' was great at the Times Union

Twas six nights before Christmas and the Jacksonville’s Times-Union Center hadA Christmas Carolthat came to town on Monday December 19, 2016.  If you didn’t get a chance to see it in 2014, then you wouldn’t be able to compare it to the spectacular show that was in town this time.  Kudo’s go out to Shonda Thurman who played a beautiful-black Christmas Past (photo not available), Bob Cratchit portrayed by Dan Chevalier, Ryan Schisler took on the role of Christmas Present, and a magnificent performance of Scrooge given by the wonderful sounding Andy Harvey.

This celebrated Charles Jones’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was rich with live ensemble music, alive with color and movement, and was created to tell this great and enduring tale in a manner that people of all ages enjoyed.  Woven throughout this classic tale are beautiful new arrangements and moving renditions of holiday songs such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Wassail Wassail,” “Good Christian Men Rejoice,” “Away in a Manger,” “Greensleeves,” “The Boar’s Head Carol,” and many more.  Featuring a cast of 23 performers, an orchestra, and Broadway-style scenery and costumes were stunning; the audience enjoyed everything that this holiday-classic group presented.

The Nebraska Theatre Caravan, the professional touring wing of the Omaha Community Playhouse, has been touring Charles Jones’ delightful adaptation of A Christmas Carol since 1979.  The Caravan’s Carol is probably the most widely produced production of Dickens’ in the nation, annually performing for more than 100,000 people in more than 60 cities across the country.  One of the many reasons for the success of the Caravan’s production of A Christmas Carolis this unique re-telling of the oft-told tale.  It is enormously enhanced by the beautiful sets of James Othuse, which recreates 1886 London, and gives the entire production the effect of being a Christmas card that comes to life.

When Charles Dickens wrote his “ghostly little tale” in 1843, he couldn’t have known that A Christmas Carol was destined to become one of the most beloved holiday classics of all time.  The heartwarming tale of A Christmas Carol depicts Ebenezer Scrooge, whose values are focused exclusively on profit and his conflicts with the struggling Cratchit family, whose tragic problems typified the working class during the Industrial Revolution in Victorian England.  The touching climax is based on Dickens' belief that the ills of a greedy world can be healed by brotherhood and unselfishness.  A Christmas Carol remains one of the most powerful and vivid illustrations of the necessity of good will in human conduct.

There are a few more productions in 2016, that you might be able to see this year, if not, make plans to attend next Christmas.