What would the season be without A Christmas Carol? The transformative power of this simple novella by Charles Dickens cannot be denied. And for years, Portland Playhouse has carried the torch, making certain those of us who never tire of the tale have a good production t0 enjoy and share with friends and family members. Upon its publication in December, 1843, the story became so popular it is said to have gotten its author out of debt!
This is a charming production, directed by Brian Weaver and Cristi Mills. Rick Lombardo adapted the play. With original music by him and Anna Lackaff and music arrangements by Anna Lackaff, music in involved throughout and contributes greatly to the production.
Todd Van Voris appears, in full mutton chops, as Scrooge, and Tiny Tim is played alternately by Rainbows Leoniak and Margot Weaver. I saw Ms. Weaver on opening night and she did a commendable job.
Other major players include Eric Little as Young Scrooge, Julian Remulla as Bob Cratchit, Charles Grant as the Ghost of Christmas Present, Claire Rigsby as Mrs. Cratchit, Rachel Lewis as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and Sarah Smith as Marley. Along with the rest of the cast, they also assumed multiple roles and costume changes, which all undertook seemingly without stress. The sets and properties (Dan Meeker, Rachel Peterson Schmerge) are simple and effective.
The special effects are fun, noisy and theatrical, but may frighten younger children. Otherwise, this is a production for all ages.
This year, Portland Playhouse is performing out of a new temporary venue as their theatrical home, the former Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, is under renovation. The play is staged in the round at Hampton Opera Center’s performance space, 221 SE Caruthers Street, Portland at the east side of the Tillicum Crossing. It runs through December 30.