David McBean (left) and Tom Stephenson in "A Christmas Carol." Photo courtesy of Cygnet Theatre
Everyone needs a little Dickens, especially this time of year when the commercialism of the holidays serve as a stark reminder of the divide between the have’s and have not’s. Beneath the spookiness and sentiment of his “A Christmas Carol” is Dickens’ commentary about the urgent need to take care of one another, including the poor and destitute. This doesn’t mean his tale can’t be enjoyed on a more superficial level, of course. Either way, Cygnet Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol in Old Town directed by Sean Murray is reliable and redemptive.
From the pre-show caroling by the actors to the delightful period costumes and wigs to warm, fun-loving performances from that cast (Tom Stephenson as Srooge and in multiple roles David McBean, Melissa Fernandes, Melinda Gilb, Patrick McBride, Charles Evans, Jr. and new this year, Megan Carmichael), Cygnet’s Carol is one worth singing about. On that note, two new songs have been added this year, though one of them, an Act 2 number given to the ghouls who steal the dead Scrooge’s effects, feels forced in. Still, there’s no serious quibbling with a festive production that, much told as its story may be, brims with the spirit and fellowship of the holidays.
(Review originally published in San Diego CityBeat on 12/19/18.)
David L. Coddon is a Southern California theater critic.