So much Dickens, so little time. We kick-started Christmas this evening by heading to one of — count ’em — five separate productions in town this season of, or based on, Charles Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol,” this one a musical version that opened tonight at Actors Cabaret of Eugene.
We’ve done Christmas at ACE before, and I’ll bet you we’ll do it again. ACE principals Joe Zingo and Jim Phillips turn the intimate little downtown theater into an over-the-top holiday confection for the run of the show, with lots of red ribbon and white lace and toys and even dolls that move as they look down on you in the audience. And all that before the play even starts.
This year’s offering is the 1994 musical version of “Christmas Carol,” with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Ahrens and Mike Ockrent.
Bruce McCarthy, as an excellent and slightly comic Scrooge, heads up a warm-hearted cast that fills the stage with this happily overdone tale of Christmas, compassion and conversion. This is straight-up community theater at its best, designed to bring you right to the brink of overdosing on Christmas cheer and then delightfully pushing you right over the edge. As ever at ACE, theater is a family matter, and the cast of this show includes a number of family groups, including two delightful twin girls, Amelie and Lilia Holden and their parents, Tyler and Laura Holden. And, of course, young Pierce Wilnau was perfectly darling as Tiny Tim.
Zingo directed and designed the show, and Roberts produced it. It runs through December 19. Go see it, and be sure to get the dinner theater option, as the food is great.
Meanwhile, keep in mind all those other Scrooges and Cratchits and Tiny Tims hitting town this year. Roving Park Players is doing their version through November 22. Admission is free; call 541-914-2374 for details. Oregon Contemporary Theatre opens their show November 27 and runs it through December 20; Ballet Fantastique dances the show, with singer Halie Loren, December 11-13; and Eugene Concert Choir performs “A Dickens of a Christmas” on December 6.