Granted, the Plaza lighting signals the opening of Kansas City’s Christmas season, but second to that, “A Christmas Carol” at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre on the UMKC campus, definitely reminds of Christmas season’s favorite humbug–Ebenezer Scrooge.
Ah yes, Ebenezer’s back with his droll, nasty demeanor until visits with a friendly ghost and three spirits instill within him the joy of the season. Annually, KC’s favorite skinflint entertains theatre patrons as he transforms from miserly to gregarious within two hours. Whether the spirit of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, or Christmas Yet-to-Come makes the biggest alteration in Scrooge, makes no difference. Scrooge’s nasty habits transform overnight.
You all know the story. There is nothing new there. But, the actors, the new script, and new direction of the story create theatre magic at the Rep. Always the anchor to the production, Gary Neal Johnson, as Ebenezer Scrooge, delivers the chintzy, penny-pinching, miserly persona with aplomb. It matters not what version of the Dickens classic is chosen, Johnson’s Scrooge highlights the evening. Johnson’s epic journey through Scrooge’s past, present, and future always brings laughter and sometime tears when the Christmas spirit erupts on Christmas Day. Count on Johnson to lead the way for a great evening of entertainment.
As the polar opposite of Ebenezer Scrooge, Kalif Gillett as Ebenezer’s nephew Fred, turns in a memorable performance. Gillett presents Fred as almost grander than life to make the difference between uncle and nephew greater than expectations.
The only problem with most productions–they do not explain the reason Scrooge’s father shunned him, nor, do they explain Scrooge’s refusal to accept his nephew. (Editorial insight: both mothers died in childbirth.)
As the ghost of Scrooge’s dead partner, Jacob Marley, the lighting and presentation of the character by John Rensenhouse might scare the younger viewers at first glance. While the appearance is stunning, when the character talks the fears quickly fade as the character becomes more of as assist to Scrooge’s epic one-night journey. Rensenhouse plays both Marley and Old Joe as kind characters in Scrooge’s odyssey.
Another standout in the Rep’s “A Christmas Carol,” Matt Rapport lights up the entire auditorium at the beginning of Act II with his larger-than-life version of Christmas Present. When he tells Scrooge, “You have never seen the likes of me,” he means it. His persona surprises Scrooge and the audience. Everyone, and I mean everyone, feels Rapport’s electricity as he charms the audience to repeat such phrases as “Humbug,” “Merry Christmas.” and possible more phrases. Rapport’s spreading of the Christmas spirit will be something audiences laugh and talk about after the show. His character sparkles and shines…to be sure.
As Charles Dickens, Walter Coppage adds introductions, transitions, tongue-in-cheek commentary to help explain the different scenes and time elements.
The KC Rep season presents the beloved holiday classic, Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” adapted for the stage by Geoff Elliott and directed by Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s Associate Artistic Director of KCRep/UMKC Partnership Jason Chanos.
Performances run November 19 through December 26 at Spencer Theatre. Kansas City’s favorite holiday tradition returns for its 41st season and promises an experience that is more magical than ever. Come share the joy of the holiday season, the theatre transforms into a page right out of the classic tale by Charles Dickens.
In addition to the return of Gary Neal Johnson as Ebenezer Scrooge, cast members include: Chioma Anyanwu (Mrs. Cratchit/Solicitor U/S/As Cast), Lauren Braton (Business 2/Mrs. Cratchit U/S/Mrs. Fezziwig U/S/As Cast), Walter Coppage (Storyteller/As Cast), Eileen Dixon (Belle/Dilber/Fred Party Guest/As Cast), Peggy Friesen (Harp/Mrs. Fezziwig/Charwoman/As Cast), Khalif J. Gillett (Fred/As Cast), Riley Lucas (Young Ebenezer/Ghost of Christmas Future/Fred Party Guest U/S/As Cast), Caleigh Michnowicz (Fred Party Guest/Belle U/S/Undertaker U/S/Dilber U/S/As Cast), Meredith Noël (Ghost of Christmas Past/Fred Party Guest/Business U/S/As Cast), Michael Oaks (Solicitor 2/Wilkins/Topper/Mr. Cratchit U/S/As Cast), Cody Proctor (Mr. Cratchit/Storyteller U/S/Fezziwig US/As Cast), Matthew Rapport (Ghost of Christmas Present/Solicitor 1/Marley U/S/ As Cast), John Rensenhouse (Marley/Mr. Fezziwig/Old Joe/As Cast), Mark Robbins (Undertaker/Scrooge U/S/As Cast), and Bri Woods (Mrs. Fred/Ghost of Christmas Present U/S/Old Joe U/S/As Cast). Tiny Tim will be played by Louisa Bartlett and Mimi Wood.
The Youth Cast Includes Emma Andrews (Belinda/fan), Alice Feldmiller (Want/young Scrooge), Kieran Ford (Peter/wilkins U/s), Cameron James (Peter/wilkins U/s), Eliza King (Belinda/fan), Topher Rauth (Turkey/teen Scrooge/ignorance), Lauren Rothaas (Martha), Drew Squire (Turkey/teen Scrooge/ignorance), Criston Starks (Martha), and Garrett Stephens (Want/Young
The Design and Production Team for a Christmas Carol Includes Rachael Cady (Lighting Design), Rachel M. Dyer (Assistant Stage Manager), Anthony T. Edwards (Music Director/piano Conductor), Sarah Espinoza (Sound Design Associate), John Ezell (Scenic Design), Gene Friedman (Scene Design Associate), Joshua Horvath (Sound Design), Tobin James (Movement Coordinator), Caleigh Michnowicz (Assistant Director), Jonathan Schriock (Asst. Music Director), and Emily Whitewinter (Production Stage Manager).
A Christmas Carol Nov. 19 – Dec. 26 | Spencer Theatre, UMKC Campus, 4646 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO 64110 Directed by Associate Artistic Director of KCRep/UMKC Partnership Jason Chanos. Recommended for audiences ages five and older, Tickets start at $39.
Tags: KC Rep, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, UMKC, Kansas City Theatre, Kansas City Arts & Entertainment, Kansas City, “A Christmas Carol”, Theatre