The Temecula Valley Players’ production of “A Christmas Carol” opened at the Old Town Temecula Theater on November 28 and runs on selected evenings though December 14.
The genius of eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken (“Beauty and the Beast,” “The Little Mermaid”) is evident in the production, which is filled with his inspiring tunes. The lyrics were written by Lynn Ahrens and the book was written by Mike Ockent along with Ahrens.
The inspiration behind the local success is musical director Victoria Mora-Collins, choreographer Gary Iverson and director Jeremy Lapp.
The production is clearly a musical, not a play punctuated by a few songs. It has little verbal interaction that isn’t sung.
The sixteen-member orchestra, conducted by Doug Knechtel, can be applauded as the root of the well-choreographed performance.
This song and dance revue is based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” first published December 19, 1843. The adapted tale used in the Temecula production features a curmudgeon named Ebenezer Scrooge (portrayed by David Macy-Beckwith) who, through a series of ghostly visitations, changes his perspective on Christmas. The Menken/Ahrens version may not be an entirely traditional “Christmas Carol” play, but the result is an entertaining and well-choreographed production.
“A Christmas Carol” is a team production. The cast works as a cohesive unit performing outstanding song and dance routines. The strength of this production is not only in the teamwork but in the performers’ energy. The production is rich with talented vocalists, dancers and tap dancers.
The sets were simple but effective and included a “transformer” set. After a scene takes place outside of Scrooge’s house, the building then opens up to display the interior.
The Ghost of Christmas Present (Ricky Allen) made an unorthodox but entertaining entrance. He first appears in the traditional green robe, then the robe comes off, revealing a white tuxedo. Broadway-style, he wields a cane and top hat, singing with a marvelous voice.
Another strong scene includes a number in which ten toys come to life and perform a stunning tap dance.
Gravediggers perform an entertaining synchronized shovel dance which is reminiscent of the chimney sweep dancers in “Mary Poppins.”
The fog machine was working overtime, setting the mood for gravediggers and ghostly visitations.
At the finale, the entire cast sings “Christmas Together” as “snow” cleverly falls on the created London street.
We are on the cusp of the Christmas season and this high-energy musical is an entertaining segue into the excitement of the holidays.
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Temecula Valley Players
“A Christmas Carol”
Old Town Community Theater
42051 Main Street, Temecula
Tickets: (866) 653-8696