There is a charming nuanced light that emanates from the Queens Theater and it has a certain something that Broadway lacks—it has the spirit of the underdog and that spirit is absolutely infectious. When that underdog takes on a literary giant like Charles Dickens and attempts to make one of his stories their own, one can find themselves in a pretty precarious situation. Not so for Titan Theater Co. in co-production with Queens Theater. Their take on A Christmas Carol is a glorious and refreshing rehashing of another classic story.
Titan, known for their dashing and daring takes on Shakespeare’s plays (A Midsummer Night’s Dream is among one of the most entertaining plays I have ever seen) now takes Dickens’ story and cleans up some of the unnecessary filling. Paring down the longer parts of A Christmas Carol, they still manage to keep the core tenets of the story, while delivering the play in a little under two hours. This keeps the audience engaged and does nothing to take away from the redemption that our main player Ebenezer experiences come final call.
The cast and crew are nothing if not extraordinary. From the young children to the major Broadway performers, this eclectic group of actors does their absolute best to bring this story to the stage. Director Lenny Banovez and Emily Trask’s adaptation weaves together past, present and future coherently and powerfully and the addition of Christmas carols to segue from scene to scene makes the patron feel as if they are watching the play from the streets of London, sipping a cocoa, listening to street carolers.
We all know the story of A Christmas Carol. It’s the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (played wonderfully by Broadway’s Kevin Loomis) and his draconian love of the almighty pound above all else. On the brink of isolating every last person in his life, dying alone, unloved in his miserly ways, he is visited by the soul of his old ruthless business partner, Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.
Marley, played here by Andy Baldeschwiler, is normally relegated to the chained and tortured ghost who warns his old “friend” to change his ways or end up like him, but in this imagining, he shows up at a party from Scrooge’s past as a tool to twist and disfigure Scrooge’s not as yet blackened heart. This change to the story adds another layer of depth to this vibrant and fertile story of loss and redemption.
Throughout the course of the hauntings one thing becomes painfully clear to old Ebenezer, his love of money cost him everything in his life that truly mattered—his love, friendships and his family. Loomis portrays this realization with charm and poise and his performance alone is reason enough to see this production.
I won’t ruin the story for those few who have never seen or read A Christmas Carol, so I will leave it at the theatre for all of you to discover (or rediscover) the Ghosts and characters for yourselves. Do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. You won’t be disappointed.
A Christmas Carol plays now through Dec. 2 at Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Ave. South, Flushing Meadows, Corona Park. For tickets and more info, please visit: www.queenstheatre.org