John Leech via Wikimedia Commons
A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play
Based on the novel by Charles Dickens
Adapted by Amy Wegener
Executive Producer Dan Gediman
Sound Design by Sue Pizza
A review by Kate Barry
Entire contents are copyright © 2020 by Kate Barry. All rights reserved.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And in the year 2020, traditions take on different meanings and festivities find different outlets. I don’t know about you but I was nearly ecstatic when I heard Actors Theatre would mount the seasonal favorite A Christmas Carol. And don’t let the radio format scare you away from the ATL staple. This version of the wholesome story about the change of heart and humanity is a veritable feast for the ears as it warms the heart.
Adapted for the radio by Amy Wegener, the story embraces Charles Dickens’ signature descriptors of Victorian England. We hear the clink of coins, hooves tapping on the ground, and wind blowing in the night. This immersive performance nearly takes you to the streets in front of Dickens counting house. And to help you through the story is a reliable Narrator played by Jessica Wortham. She spins verbal illustrations with ease as she explains and sympathizes with the well-known Dickensian characters. Wortham brings a gentle tone to her storytelling that evokes sitting by the fire with a book and little ones close by.
A good radio show is only as good as its talent. This all ages cast bring vibrant personality to voices of Scrooge, Marley, and the Ghosts. John G Preston’s Scrooge is almost troll like with his angry tones, growls, and guttural “bah humbugs.” Preston smartly loosens Scrooge’s gruff tones after each visit by the spirits. By the time Scrooge delivers his “Christmas in my heart” speech, where Preston once growled, he now laughs with great joviality.
The ensemble provides strong performances throughout the 90 minute radio play. Neill Robertson’s Jacob Marley makes a very strong impression as the cautionary spirit. From gasping whispers to wailing, his performance was strong without the need for additional sound effects. As for the other spirits, Christina Acosta Robinson’s Ghost of Christmas Past exudes childlike innocence with a soft tone. Ken Robinson gives a sumptuous performance as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Raspy and deep, Robinson provides a voice as big and as majestic as the Ghost himself.
I was particularly struck by the Cratchit family. Ken Robinson appears again as Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s employee and patriarch of a small family, doing well to present Cratchit as grateful and sincere while avoiding sentimentality. In the roles of the Cratchit children, Austin Ramirez, Bailey Ramirez, and Marilyn Robinson bring playful energy and build youthful sibling bonds. And I would be completely amiss to not mention Tiny Tim. As the youngest Cratchit, Vaughn Michael Ramirez proudly and confidently proclaims the most famous line in the show with great gusto.
Holidays are different this year, there is no denying that. Actors Theater has put together an indulgent holiday treat within A Christmas Carol Radio Play that is sure to please. And don’t we all need a little festive cheer right now?
A Christmas Carol Radio Play
Available to stream November 24-December 31, 2020
Kate Barry earned her Bachelors in English with a Theater minor from Bellarmine University in 2008. She has worked with many different companies around town including Kentucky Shakespeare Festival, Bunbury Theater, Louisville Repertory Company, Walden Theater, Finnigan Productions and you have probably purchased tickets from her at that little performing arts center on Main Street as well. In 2012, her short play “PlayList” won festival favorite in the Finnigan Festival of Funky Fresh Fun. She has written for LEO Weekly and TheatreLouisville.com as well. Thanks for reading!