On this very day, 19 December 1843, A Christmas Carol was published. Somehow all these years later it has been transformed into a first-class show that can bring a smile to the old and young even in 2014.
An American Tradition
Going to the theatre should be an exciting and glamourous experience. Over in America that’s exactly what it’s like. Well, at least it is when watching the classic, A Christmas Carol, at the A.C.T. (American Conservatory Theater) in San Francisco (California).
Families don their best Christmas outfits, from pretty red dresses and plaits for little girls, to chic winter boots for their yummy mummies. And it isn’t just a show for parents and children. Grandparents, aunties and uncles, cousins and friends all get together for a special Christmas outing.
Simply lining up to get inside is a heart-warming experience as you listen to the excited chatter and watch the beaming faces. “We’ve been coming to see a Christmas show here for the last eight years” one proud parent tells me and it seems she’s not alone. You only have to eavesdrop for a few moments to find out that most of the audience are repeat guests and that speaks volumes in itself. As an overseas visitor it feels like a huge privilege to be part of such a local tradition.
Cast any preconceived ideas aside because this production of A Christmas Carol is top class and will have you gripped. The costumes are phenomenal and the innovative set really pulls you into a world of Christmas. The actors and actresses play their roles so well that you forget it’s actually 2014. There are no cheesy, over the top songs or tacky pantomime jokes – it’s a classy, entertaining performance.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story (where have you been?!), it’s written by ‘the man who invented Christmas’ or so many say, but you may know him as Charles Dickens. It’s largely based around a character nicknamed Scrooge. He’s an unhappy, penny-pinching man who doesn’t buy into the spirit of Christmas. On Christmas Eve he’s visited by his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him to change his ways. During the night Scrooge is visited by three spirits of the past, present and future. They show snippets of his life in an effort to make him see his poor judgement. And well, as it’s a Christmas tale I’m sure you can guess how it ends.
Ken Ruta plays the ghost of Jacob Marley and is so believable that the theatre (or theater as they say) is filled with gasps. The designer of his costume and the make-up artist definitely deserve gold stars. James Carpenter plays Ebnezer Scrooge and is without a doubt one of the best lead actors you’ll see in a show like this. He really is a huge talent. Even the meanest of hearts will be unfrozen with the scenes involving the adorable children, who play fantastic parts. Just flicking through the programme to read their biographies will have you feeling like you need to dramatically increase your collection of hobbies and talents. Truly inspiring.
Even if you don’t have children or you’re not into novels (like me and the Mr) go and see this show if you’re in San Francisco. It really will get you in the mood for Christmas and have you itching to make good deeds. As most of the audience are firm regulars, tickets sell out really quickly so book ahead if you can.
If you’re visiting San Francisco outside of December check the schedule to see what’s on as Geary Theater is truly beautiful. In 1989 a huge earthquake made a giant hole in the ceiling, causing loads of damage. The San Francisco community managed to raise a staggering $30million to rebuild it, which gives you a tiny glimpse of how well-loved it is. The actors and actresses train at the Tony Award-winning nonprofit theatre, with some of them going on to be big movie stars, such as Elizabeth Banks (most recently in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).
Are you a fan of A Christmas Carol? What’s your favourite theatre production? X