TEEN AMBASSADOR:ELISE MELLO | DECEMBER 10, 2016
It’s the beginning of December, a hint of Christmas already in the air as the festive time rapidly approaches each passing day. There’s snow on the ground, green and red decorations that twinkle in the light like shooting stars are hung practically everywhere, and you can’t escape those joyous Christmas classics being played on every radio station for an entire month. Lucky for you, Christmas is pretty much your favorite time of the year, and you celebrate it fanatically no matter. You’re in the mood for something that will somehow squeeze ever more holiday cheer into your body and lift the spirits of those around you. Well, look no further than the Nebraska Theatre Caravan production of a Christmas Carol, a play written by Charles Dickens that just oozes holiday cheer. Or perhaps you’re the complete opposite. Maybe Christmas is enjoyable for you, but your mind can absolutely not comprehend why all the festivities need to start the day after Thanksgiving. You only get your tree about a week before Christmas Eve, all decorating feels like a horrible chore, and you absolutely can not stand that monotonous Mariah Carey song. If this is a more accurate description of the relationship you and the holiday share, then seeing this production is even MORE of a necessity, because whether you’re the biggest Scrooge or Santa’s Number 1 fan, this unique yet timeless take on a Christmas classic will bring out the best in everyone.
From the moment the lights dimmed and the curtains on the stage rose, it was crystal clear just how talented the entire cast assembled onstage before me truly were. Each actor had developed a clear, interesting character that kept the audience engaged even during set changes or lulls in action occurring, even the littlest of cast member who couldn’t have been any older than the age of 8! Scenes featuring the company were filled with familiar carols, such as “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” and “Joy to the World” sung beautifully along with some very skilled dancers doing twirls and leaps across the stage to accompany it. However, what really astounded me was the leading actors and their capabilities that one could only dream of having. For instance, the role of Scrooge was played by Andy Harvey, who brought the character to life in way that I’m positive exceeded Dickens’ wildest dreams. Adorned with a full head of gray hair, wrinkles outlining his aggressive facial expressions throughout the show,and a gruff voice that seemed to be withered by years of age made it hard to believe that Harvey was only 28! Regardless of this, he gave the man we all love to hate a new depth that made all of our hearts break for him when seeing what he was truly feeling.
Another aspect that really set this production apart from hundreds of others going on across the country was the fantastic scenery. Having been lucky enough to speak with the properties manager Darin Kuehler, who told me that the scenery seen onstage was the same set used for the past 20 years! Aside from being shocked about how well it has held up for the past two decades, I was also befuddled by how such a small number of multi-purpose set pieces that compacted seamlessly were able to enhance the show astronomically. A hand painted canvas backdrop depicting a quaint street where peddlers and shops resided on a cold Winter’s night seemed to pull you right into London yourself. The Cratchit house, made of only 2 wooden flats that barely took up a third of the stage, demonstrated just how bare yet full of love Bob and Tiny Tim’s home was, which you just made the audience’s hearts break even more when Scrooge foresaw Tim dying.
All in all the Nebraska Theatre Caravan’s take on a Christmas Carol was one never to be forgotten, and something that truly brought out oodles of holiday spirit in all of us. From chorus members livening up what would have been exceedingly dull moments in the shows with bundles of excitement and enthusiasm, numerous joy-filled songs that made the whole audience start to sing along, and a cast filled of talented young actors who spread Christmas cheer faster than you can say “God bless us, everyone!”