Through his iconic work, Charles Dickens is credited with inventing the modern form of Christmas in the U.S. and England, and the Alley Theatre’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas” keeps the holiday tradition alive in Houston. “A Christmas Carol” is a magical and heartwarming story which at its heart is about redemption.
The Alley Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” reminds Houstonians to be thankful for and to take care of each other. Ebenezer Scrooge’s ghostly nightmare before Christmas makes him aware of the community around him. He realizes that he needs his family, friends and neighbors as much as they need him.
Scrooge is both the most repulsive, yet lovable character theater-goers will ever see in Houston. James Black delivers Scrooge’s cruel lines so naturally that it’s easy to picture yourself saying them. Scrooge shows he has a heart and feelings as ghosts show him his past, present and future.
Black is returning to playing Scrooge after the the lead role was played by Jeffrey Bean for the last ten years. Black is also the director of the production and he has served as the theater’s acting artistic director since January. While Black has been busy, he still gives his all in his portrayal of Scrooge.
This isn’t a tale that’s all merry and bright, it truly is a ghost story. The phantoms steal the show. The Alley’s live gang of dancing ghosts is much creepier than the ghosts in any movie version of “A Christmas Carol.” Forget Santa, be good because otherwise otherworldly creatures will pay you a visit on Christmas Eve. I jumped a few times during the production.
The Alley Theatre made an attempt at being LGBT-friendly with their summertime production of “The Cake.” However, in this production of “A Christmas Carol,” Scrooge’s maid, Mrs. Dilber, is portrayed as a trans-woman as a gag. Making a joke at the expense of a marginalized group of people is never OK. The character is played by a male actor (Dylan Godwin) who’s high-pitch voice switches into a deep tone a couple of times just to tell everyone it’s a man. This isn’t part of Dickens’ novella, it’s just a way for the theater to try to get more laughs and it’s completely uncalled for.
“A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas” is playing at the Alley Theatre through Dec. 30. With a valid student ID, tickets are $16 for select performances. If purchasing online, use the promo code STUDENTCHRISTMAS.