Christmas Carole review

FCN Alhambra Christmas Carole 1512

Alhambra’s Christmas Carole is as tasty as Fezziwig’s figgy pudding  

By Mark Pettus

Christmas is perhaps the only time of year when seeing a show for the 10th time (or even the 50th – God bless Charlie Brown) is actually something to look forward to.

But whether you attend every year or have never seen the Alhambra Dinner Theatre’s annual production of Bruce Allen Scudder’s “Christmas Carole,” you should be looking forward to one of this year’s shows.

Written for the Alhambra stage, this adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic is always a treat, but this year it’s a treat with whipped cream, nuts and cherries on top. Gary Marachek’s Scrooge is as despicable an old miser as ever pinched a penny, and his transformation to pitiable coward and then buoyant benefactor marks Marachek as one of the finest Scrooges to ever take the stage.

He is paired with the perfectly-cast Kenneth Uibel, who plays the four ghostly apparitions that haunt Scrooge’s Christmas Eve: Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Uibel’s tall, lanky frame, coupled with the Alhambra’s award-worthy wardrobe, makes him believable as all four, and his nuanced performance makes him delightful in each role.

Joseph Parra’s Fezziwig is jovial enough to make you want to push Scrooge aside and join the party, and Matthew Jay Campbell’s nephew Fred is both kind and strong and lends gravitas as the narrator/chorus as scenes shift.

Bob Cratchit is played by Griffeth Whitehurst. Whitehurst’s earnest everyman quality shone through in his last performance as Billy Crocker in “Anything Goes” and he sparkles as Tiny Tim’s father.

Tiny Tim and Sarah are well-played by siblings Harrison and Abby Davey. Douglas Anderson musical theater student Taylor Halsema is becoming an Alhambra regular and plays Annie. The golden-voiced Linzy Lauren plays Dorothy Cratchit. Remember her name; you’ll probably see a lot of it in the future.

The show is tasty, but the Alhambra’s middle name is “Dinner,” and while the menu doesn’t offer figgy pudding, it features a feast fit for any palate.

The Holiday Feast of carved turkey, honey baked ham with sweet potatoes soufflé cornbread dressing and green beans was the most popular item on opening night. A gluten-free option is available for every course (the Seared Arctic Char topped with leeks and fresh crab, asparagus and citrus salad was delicious) and there’s even a vegetarian option: Portobello mushroom and vegetable stack with butter bean ragu and red pepper pesto.

Crème Brulee French toast or flourless chocolate cake with peppermint caramel sauce (gluten-free)  lead the dessert course, which also includes fresh fruit, chocolate mousse or sorbet.

Alhambra’s Christmas Carole runs through Christmas Eve, but performances often sell out early. Visit www.alhambrajax.com to reserve tickets.

 

Photo provided by Alhambra Dinner Theatre. Kenneth Uibel as Jacob Marley and Gary Marachek as Scrooge in the Alhambra Dinner Theatre’s production of “Christmas Carole.”