Thursday, November 29, 2012

KC Repertory "Christmas Carol" review by kellyluck

'Carol' returns for its 32nd season
Rating: 4

A Christmas Carol
Kansas City Repertory Theatre

There are certain traditions, exclusive to a certain time and place, that mark them out and make them unique and special. Take, for example, the Holidays in Kansas City. We have Waterfire (a bit early for the holidays I admit, but in the same spirit), the Plaza lighting ceremony, and we have the annual production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

The KCRep's production of the seminal holiday story is in its 32nd season now, and every year the production grows more lavish with musical choruses, production design, and stagecraft. Its followers are legion, coming again year after year to watch the performance mature and grow. With the intense loyalty of the community, and the resources poured into its production every year, it will no doubt continue on for a very long time indeed.

To relate the story here would be superfluous; readers who have somehow managed to avoid the story are best advised to pick up the source material in any case. Suffice it to say that the production stays true to the original story, following the old time-established formula. Kyle Hatley's direction takes us through the story quite ably from A to Z. Gary Neal Johnson reprises his role as Ebenezer Scrooge, and moves through it with the assurance of a veteran. He is ably assisted by a very talented cast, of which there are too many highlights to mention.

Also of note is the technical work that went into the play. "Carol" is at heart a fantasy, and must therefore bring its best elements of stagecraft to bear. The stage set proved itself extremely versatile, the rotating set whisking us back and forth across London smoothly and without the usual interruptions down to scene changes. Lighting was very ably done, as was the music. Overall the technical side of things ran as smoothly as the performances.

Overall, this is an impressive performance, and it is down to a large and diverse group of talents coming together to make it happen. During the pre-show introductions, it was mentioned that many Kansas City- area students will see this in the oncoming weeks, and that for many of them, it will be their first exposure to theatre. As one who has always believed firmly in planting the seed of enthusiasm for the arts at as early an age as possible, I am glad to know that such an effort exists. Someday, I like to think, one of those children may go on to make their mark upon the theatre world. And I couldn't ask for a better gift than that.

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