When I think of the holidays in Houston, three things come to mind: The trees adorn with white lights along Uptown Park, ice skating at Discovery Green, and one of our city’s best institutions, Alley Theatre and its seasonal piece de resistance, A Christmas Carol-A Ghost Story of Christmas.
Michael Wilson‘s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale springs to life with a hauntingly fun cast of characters and a remarkable London set designed by Tony Award-winning scenic designer Tony Straiges.
When the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Jeffrey Bean) takes a hard-nosed approach to the Christmas season, he is forced to confront his actions and his own mortality as three ghostly spirits visit him in the night.
See Photos from Alley’s “A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas” Below!
The production, directed by Alley’s venerable James Black, stirs audiences to both laughs and tears in this timely anecdote of redemption and the joys of this season.
While Black’s face adorns Alley’s Playbill and marketing as the show’s antihero, it is Bean who reprises his role as Scrooge to the delight of this reviewer. Growing up with Black each season as a young theater patron, I was reluctant to accept Bean when he first donned the curmudgeon’s cloak. Five years later, I am grateful for his craft. Bean embodies the role so well, you might be convinced he originated the character himself.
Paired with ghostly co-star John Feltch in the dual role of Jacob Marley and Mrs. Dilber, the two woo their audience from first impression to curtain call.
Applause for David Rainey, who reprises his role as Bert and the Spirit of Christmas Present. There is no Christmas Carol without Rainey, who achieves a remarkable feat as not only comedic foil but judge, jury and executioner in his spirit form.
Impressive and notable is the performance of Leah Curney as Mary Pidgeon and the Spirit of Christmas Past, who makes her Alley Theatre debut. She is as warm and delightful as the late Alley company actor Bettye Fitzpatrick, who owned that role until her retirement in 2009. While Bettye left us in 2011, I can’t help but think she smiles over Curney as she takes Scrooge by the hand and brings him to the places and faces of days long before.
“A Christmas Carol – A Ghost Story of Christmas” plays on the Hubbard Stage from November 15 to December 26. Ticket information is available at http://alleytheatre.org, by phone at 713-220-5700, or at the Alley Theatre box office. Alley Theatre is at 615 Texas Ave., in Houston.