Prepare to deck the halls with the Public Theater of San Antonio’s production of A Christmas Carol the Musical, which features music by Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast) and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens (Once on this Island). Scaled down from the Madison Square Garden show that ran from 1994 to 2003, this intimate version eschews the elaborate effects and allows our local talent to shine — and shine they do.
First and foremost, Vincent Hardy makes a terrific Scrooge. After seeing dozens of performances by dozens of actors over the years, it’s got to be difficult to breathe new life into this character, but Hardy does fine work.
The actors performing the various ghosts that visit Scrooge on that fateful night are also great. As his former partner, the deceased Jacob Marley, Isidro Medina III performs the skeleton dancing show-stopper, “Link By Link,” with audience-pleasing gusto. Jeremy Marmolejo is wryly amusing as the campy Ghost of Christmas Past, and Melissa Zarb-Cousin, as the Ghost of Christmas Present, rips into the other show-stopper, the burlesque-y “Abundance and Charity,” with enthusiasm. As the creepily mute Ghost of Christmas Future, the veil-clad, balletic Paige Berry gives new meaning to the term “dancing on his grave” — and it’s nicely done.
The Public’s ensemble cast is excellent, which is vital for a show that focuses so much on performance rather than spectacle. Even the young performers have voices that could knock down the house, such as Grayson Reynolds Warren as Tiny Tim.
Eric B. Mota’s choreography is a lot of fun, especially during the aforementioned showstoppers (love those skulls). Tim Hedgepeth directs with an assured hand, and Jaime Ramirez’s band sounds rich and full. The minimal scenic design by Alex Casillas works perfectly for a production of this size, and it is fleshed out with beautifully evocative costumes created by Michael Ciaramitaro and Rachael Lorenzetti. Carlos R. Nine’s lighting and sound design finish the job.
A Christmas Carol the Musical is ideal fare for the whole family and is highly recommended. It plays Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. through Dec. 18 at the Public Theater of San Antonio, 800 W. Ashby Place. Tickets are available online.
Feature photo courtesy of the Public Theater of San Antonio.