You’d have to be a combination of Scrooge, the Grinch and the Abominable Snow Monster of the North to find fault with the Gilbert Theater’s production of A Christmas Carol.
    Produced by first-time director Elysa Lenczyk and starring a cast of local actors — including a group of children who pop up here and there like a Yule version of the Greek chorus, peppering the play with adorable renditions of traditional Christmas carols — A Christmas Carol is a pitch-perfect, faithful retelling of the Dickens’ classic. It’s all here: old Ebenezer in all his crotchety glory, played by Fenton Wilkinson; the ghost of Marley as interpreted by Evan Bridenstine; Bob Cratchit, portrayed by Charles Lee; and, God bless us every one, Tiny Tim, more than ably played by the cute as a dickens Matthew Kafel.
    {mosimage}There are many other excellent players making up the large cast, each turning in a bravura performance, and it is all kept on balance by the soothing narration from veteran actress Joyce Lipe, who serves as the play’s moral barometer.
    With the exception of perhaps a few billion Chinese, Muslims and secluded Borneo headhunters, everyone knows the storyline of the stingy, insufferable Scrooge and his encounters with the ghosts of Christmas’ Past, Present and Future, so I’ll not spend a lot of time outlining the plot. Suffice to say, Wilkinson is the real thing as the old miser in dire need of an injection of Christmas spirit. He is led through a series of striking and authentic looking set changes as the well-worn story unfolds. It’s no wonder the sets are so wonderful, as director Lenczyk is in her third season as the theater’s resident stage manager; not only did she direct and help supervise the props, she served as stage manager, was part of the stage crew and designed the lighting. She wore as many different caps in the play as the male characters doffed Victorian-era top hats — which reminds me, I need to give props not only to the excellent props, but also to the wonderful Victorian costumes, ably maintained and created by seamstress Ivette Feliciano.
    However, all the props and costumes and seamless set changes would mean nothing if there was not the proper dose of humanity in this retelling of the old Dickens’ Christmas chestnut — and there’s as much humanity here as one would expect to find coal in old man Scrooge’s stocking. As mentioned, Wilkinson is a true standout as Scrooge, while Bridenstine’s Marley is as fine a portrayal as you’ll find on any stage.
    Lee’s Cratchit is perfectly subservient, yet loyal to his overbearing and ill-humored boss, while Jonathon DeArujo displays great acting chops in a dual role as Scrooge’s nephew and Spirit No. 3.
    As mentioned beforehand, all of the characters are wonderful, especially the child carolers. And I heard more than one sniffle in the crowd during the scene from Christmas Future when Tiny Tim’s crutch sat alone next to his grieving family, the child having departed to a better place.
    And you won’t find a better time or better way to get into the Christmas spirit this year than checking out A Christmas Carol at Gilbert Theater. The play runs through Dec. 14, Thursdays and Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10. For information or reservations, call the Gilbert Theater at 678-7186, or online at www.gilberttheater.com. 
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