OK, I’ve now been to three different versions of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” this season in Eugene. (There are actually five productions running. I’m most likely not going to make it to the other two.)
“An American Christmas Carol,” Ballet Fantastique’s Christmas show with Eugene jazz singer Halie Loren, is clearly the best of the lot.
BFan, as it’s affectionately known to its fans, is ballet light and fun. It does less “Swan Lake” and more rock ‘n’ roll. That doesn’t mean for a moment that its dancing is less passionate, crisp and precise than any other company in town. Just more relaxed.
This Christmas show, which debuted last year, transports the familiar Dickens tale from Victorian London to 1940s, jazzy New York. Joseph Marley becomes Smokey Joe, a Brooklyn tough guy with pinstripe suit, white spats and a thick accent, portrayed here by Adam Goldthwaite.
Loren, a splendid singer, holds the show together with her renditions of such standards as “Let It Snow,” “That’s Life,” and the culturally touchy “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,” which she pulls off in a perfect duet with Goldthwaite.
And, yes, the dancing. It’s hard to figure out in this version of Dickens whether you’re here to listen to Loren sing or to watch the dancers. Fortunately, you get to do both.
The Hult was absolutely hopping Friday night, as the Eugene Symphony was featuring cellist Yo-Yo Ma in the big Silva Hall while BFan was in the Soreng.
Who says Eugene ain’t an arts capital?