A short and stingy Scrooge

A Christmas Carol

By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Sandra Nordgren
Directed by Robert Kreis
Thirteenth Street Repertory Company
50 West 13th Street (675-6677)
Non-union production (closes Jan. 18)
Review by Elias Stimac

Sandra Nordgren's s family-style version of Charles Dickens's beloved holiday tale is like its central character -- short, shabby, and a bit on the stingy side. The result is a Christmas play that tries to please everybody but doesn't quite do the source material justice.

Nordgren has edited many of the scenes and deleted lots of characters out of Dickens's story of Ebeneezer Scrooge's journey from miserly curmudgeon to generous benefactor. Perhaps this was to accommodate younger patrons and their limited attention spans. But it also short-changes the original author's intentions, and the adult observers who have come to know and love it.

Director Robert Kreis staged everything on the same bare-bones setting, further sapping the story of its time-traveling cleverness and charm. Kreis's inventiveness was apparent in a few sequences, but the script shackled him like the Ghost of Marley from making further adjustments.

Musical director Kevin Keller made some tuneful contributions, but was not given enough to do in order to make a major impact. (A proposed musical adaptation of "Carol" by Nordgren and Keller might be the answer to many of these shortcomings.)

The most promising aspect of the show was Jenny Gabrielle's graceful and genuine portrayal of the Ghost of Christmas Past. The actress exuded a calm, inviting presence, even while encouraging viewers to scream along with her and scare Scrooge. (The decision to use audience participation, however, was another example of a half-hearted idea that went nowhere.) Gabrielle is an actress who is sure to capture the attention of casting directors and critics in the very near future.

Likeable Marco DaSilva also deserved applause as Tiny Tim, giving his famous character an upbeat sensibility and never appearing to ask for pity. Versatile Josh Anthony Iacovelli lent his ample comic energy to several characters. As Scrooge, youthful Daniel O'Brien is miscast but still manages to deliver some memorable moments in the role.

The cast also featured Neil Feigeles, Dylan DeLaTorre, Hella Bel, Jay Seals, Colleen Piquette, Alejandro Kolleeny, and Martina DeSilva. Sets and costumes were designed by Tom Harlan, and David Renwanz handled the lighting chores.

Box Score:

Writing: 1
Directing: 1
Acting: 1
Sets: 1
Costumes: 1
Lighting/Sound: 1

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Copyright 2003 Elias Stimac