What the Dickens is a Humbug?


The beloved classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens adopts a new persona on stage. The production has become an annual effort between the Zeiterion Theatre and the Nebraska Theatre Caravan for over 30 years, booked a few nights come holiday season. The house is near sold out for each of the performances and has become a bit of a holiday tradition within the community. A few of my colleagues have gone to see the production annually, and I now know why.

Being a bit of a literature buff, I was skeptical of yet another portrayal of A Christmas Carol. The character Ebenezer Scrooge is somewhat of a tortured soul starting life with good intentions but becoming greed stricken as his career took flight. The portrayal of Scrooge in this live rendition was ominously playful. The character joked around with serious matters of poverty at the beginning of the play.

This over the top role was well done by Chad Bradford, who has played Ebenezer in previous executions by the Nebraska Theatre Caravan. Equally the roles of all of the spirits, including Jacob Marley whose delivery was not as dead as a doornail, were fabulous; each taking the stage by storm. The ghosts of Christmas Past and Present were having quite the grand time showing Scrooge his wrong doings, giggling, laughing, and bellowing at his epiphanies. Conversely the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come stood tall and terrifying.

Likewise all of the actors and actresses in the play were spot on with their old English accents, even when singing. This live performance of A Christmas Carol  included quite a few musical numbers and unironically caroling. The numbers were put together in a way that was in no way an homage to Broadway; but instead as more of an enhancement of the joy Christmas brought to others that Scrooge didn’t partake in. There were a few dance breaks that were notable, particularly the ones including large portions of the ensemble.

As great as the actors all were, the performance couldn’t have been complete without the beautiful props, sets, and costumes. I would like to highly compliment all of the people responsible for the visual effects for the production which caught my eye as soon as the curtain raised. Everything tied together very nicely at the end when Scrooge becomes saintly, including him revoking the debts he gave to the townspeople, tearing up the bills crying, “It’s snowing financial freedom!” Each year the show adds something a little different, typically with the lines. But stays true to the meaning behind A Christmas Carol: to be compassionate and giving through all life throws at you. And not to be a humbug.

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