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reviewed by Ken Klingenmeier

Indiana Repertory Theatre celebrates Christmas 2016 with the return of their perennial holiday production – the Tom Haas adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. This edition of the show is directed by Executive Artistic Director Janet Allen, who brings a deft and somewhat innovative viewpoint to the undertaking.

If you have seen the show in recent years, you may recall the snow-filled stage, the huge golden frame, perhaps even the surprising and refreshing characterizations that Ryan Artzberger brings to his portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge. All these familiar pieces are in place, but Ms. Allen has lovingly brought a more melodic and descriptive sensitivity to the story-telling. The result of her choices, which includes female ghosts, feels like a whole new experience – in fact it is an energizing and uplifting tonic, beneficial to the holiday’s soul.

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Emily Ristine (Christmas Past) and Ryan Artzberger (Ebenezer Scrooge) in IRT’s 2016 production of “A Christmas Carol”

In addition to Mr. Artzberger’s fine work, we are treated to strong performances by the entire ensemble. Charles Goad returns with his imposing Jacob Marley, and Constance Macy delights us once again with her flighty Mrs. Fezziwig – but there is a freshening in many characters.  In addition to Emily Ristine as Christmas Past, and Milicent Wright as Christmas Present, plus Rob Johansen’s silent Christmas Future, there are Charles Pasternak as Young Scrooge and nephew Fred, Amanda Catania’s lovely and sensitive Belle, as well as a quite touching portrayal of the Cratchit family led by Jeremy Fisher and Ms. Ristine as Bob and Mrs. Cratchit, along with Miles Morey, Alyssa Marie Gaines, Teddy Rayhill, Nina Morey and Sophaia Prabhu-Hensley as the Cratchit children. These and the other cast members deliver a poignant yet often humorous recreation.

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The entire ensemble from IRT’s 2016 production of “A Christmas Carol”

As usual, all the technical aspects of the show are polished and profuse. These include Russell Metheny’s open yet functional snowy set design; Murell Horton’s array of costumes, which adroitly portray the 1840s’ class distinctions; composer Andrew Hopson’s influential touches of music and sounds; and the dynamic effects of lighting designed by Michael Lincoln.

Bottom line: It all adds up to another very special edition of this Christmas classic by IRT, which is truly a large part of the holiday season for so many. If you have the idea that seeing it again this year would be a repeat of recent productions, know that this year’s version has a noteworthy freshness to it.

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A Christmas Carol continues on IRT’s main stage through December 24th. For ticket and reservation information, go to http://www.irtlive.com or call the ticket office at 317-635-5252.

  • Banner artwork by Kyle Ragsdale
  • Photos by Zach Rosing
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