‘A Christmas Carol’ Sings Its Way to Downtown Santa Barbara
Ensemble Theatre Company’s Take on the Classic Promises Laughter, Drama, and Lots of Heart
Ensemble Theatre Company gets into the holiday “spirit” with their production of Charles Dickens’ classic ghost story, A Christmas Carol. This theatrical adaptation is written by Patrick Barlow, the British scriptwriter and comedic performer; and directed by Jamie Torcellini. In this version of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from miserable miser to gentleman of great cheer, five actors play all the various roles of the story. One actor (Mark Capri) plays Scrooge; the other legion of characters, including ghosts and even furniture, are split up amongst the remaining four performers.
While the cast is small, this is certainly not a bare-bones production: audiences can expect beautiful design elements and an abundance of theater “magic” to help tell the story of Scrooge’s visitations with his nighttime specters. The show also features actors playing musical instruments, Bunraku-style puppetry, and masks. “Barlow likes to make sure that everyone opens up their imaginations,” says Torcellini. “It’s unlike any other Christmas Carol you have seen.”
In terms of the script, Barlow’s sense of comedy is overtly evident, but the cast and director aim to also do justice to the more poignant moments in the story. “It’s funny, it’s touching, there’s lots of comedy,” Torcellini says. “But we don’t shy away from the ghost story, and we don’t shy away from the dramatic moments.”
It’s been almost two centuries since Dickens’ story of Scrooge’s emotional glow-up was published, but the material remains relevant and engaging with themes of self-reformation, the importance of community, and the evils of greed.
“The story of redemption is one we all need to be reminded of, especially in today’s world,” says Torcellini. “And the story of selfishness needs to be repeated. Often.” Patrick Barlow’s A Christmas Carol runs at the New Vic Theatre from December 1–18.
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