Monday, February 10, 2014

More Yuletide Revelry

Ben Hur, King of Kings, The Ten Commandments, three titles that should be instantly familiar to a Trinbagonian child of the eighties. Harkening back to a time when one television station (TTT) was all we had, one would be hard pressed to find an eighties trini who hadn't been forced to watch all three of these every year on Christmas Day.

Though the venerable Charton Heston's movies did dominate, by the early-nineties, another Christmas classic started to become popular, a Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. Patrick Stewart's version in particular I grew fond of the most.

A Christmas Carol
Chris Kayser reprising his role
as Ebeneezer Scrooge
The Alliance Theater has clearly made a name for itself. While "The Fox" has The Nutcracker, the Alliance has its very own Christmas classic which it has been running for more than twenty years. For sixteen of those years, the role of Ebeneezer Scrooge had been played Chris Kayser, a gentleman who recently announced his retirement from the role (not from acting altogether mind you) to which Atlanta responded by selling out nearly all this season's shows a month in advance. Seriously, these tickets were harder to find than the Nutcracker.

I understand now why Mr. Kayser was so popular; he not only had the look, but the demeanour as well. The gentleman performed so well as Scrooge that I found myself actually hating the guy. I experienced genuine feelings of pity for him during times of despair and rejoiced at his seemingly remarkable overnight transformation.

Not to be outdone, his supporting cast absolutely impressed. There was a chemistry among the castmates, a near tangible sense of cohesion that made this whole portrayal seem believable. It's not often easy to convincingly emulate a time and place that far removed from your own, but this group pulled it off.

I should mention also, costumes and set design; tasked with creating a mid-nineteenth century, Victorian era English town, the set designers took care to include many elements intrinsic of the time. From furnishings to rugs, bedding and tableware, for two hours I was convinced I'd been roaming 1830s England. The set itself incorporated ingenious hidden trap doors for grand entrances or stealthy departures and rigging that made some characters fly. This was way more "theatrics" than I'd have expected for a stage play, and I loved every minute.

Like I did with the Nutcracker, I am highly recommending A Christmas Carol. Add it to your annual family Christmas rotation, particularly Alliance Theatre's version and be sure to take the younguns. Good stories with morals are often hard to find and morals are just what society needs more of these days.


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