This holiday season, Hampton Roads will be visited by at least fifteen spirits. If you haven’t had the chance to catch a stage production of Charles Dickens’ iconic holiday classic A Christmas Carol, there are more opportunities this year than ever before.
The Virginia Theatre Machine got the earliest jump when they began their eighth year of performing A Christmas Carol Street Theater at Merchants Square in Colonial Williamsburg on Thanksgiving. They continue their 30-35 minute fast-paced comedic take on the Dickens classic with several showtimes all weekend through December 20 (check merchantssquare.org/events for times and info). These performances are free and open to the public, weather permitting.
Chris Van Cleeve as Scrooge in VMT’s rendition | David Beloff
Younger audiences had the opportunity to see Children Theater of Hampton Roads present Uncle Wiggily’s Christmas Carol at the Children’s Museum of Virginia last Saturday. While there are no more scheduled dates this season, we certainly hope Uncle Wiggily will be back for a sixth annual presentation next year. In the meantime, CTHR audiences can enjoy their new holiday offering of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas for their final performances at the Meyera E Oberndorf Central Library in Virginia Beach this Sunday and December 20 at 2pm or the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts on Saturday December 19 at 11am (visit childrenstheatreofhamptonroads.org for more info).
Starting this weekend, there are two more productions of A Christmas Carol available for your holiday entertainment. Virginia Musical Theatre is bringing back their original musical version that wowed audiences last year at the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts. This limited engagement is a co-production of Virginia Musical Theatre and Governor’s School for the Arts, with original music and lyrics by Chip Gallagher (Chair of Musical Theatre at GSA) and Jeff Meredith (founding Artistic Director of VMT), and will only perform this weekend at the Sandler. National recording artist and West End/Broadway veteran performer Chris Van Cleave (Les Miserables, Chess, Jesus Christ Superstar) fills the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, leading a cast of more than 30 Hampton Roads professionals. For tickets call (757) 340-5446, or go to go to YnotTix.com.
For those who prefer their Scrooges not to burst into song, Peninsula Community Theatre is presenting a new adaptation by Jeffrey Corriveau, who has been a fixture of the local theater scene for years. Described as new, fresh and innovative, this Hampton Roads premiere opens this weekend and runs through December 20. Visit pctlive.org for tickets and more info.
And let’s not forget Virginia Stage Company’s lively adaptation by Interim Artistic Director Patrick Mullins, which will preview on Wednesday before officially opening on Friday, December 11. For more than a decade, VSC has presented A Christmas Carol to over 50,000 patrons, and with two dozen performances leading up to the closing matinee on Christmas Eve there are certain to be thousands more added to that figure. Visit vastage.org or call (757) 627-1234 for more details on how you can be part of the audience tally.
So why do we keep going back? Why aren’t audiences saying “Bah Humbug” to the constant annual retelling of a story written almost 200 years ago? In asking this question I get responses ranging from “It’s just something to do” to “It beats going to The Nutcracker,” but the most common answer seems to be the transformation of Scrooge.
We spend all year rolling with whatever punches our lives and the world keep throwing at us, and we just want to shut the world away, but A Christmas Carol reminds us that every morning can be what Christmas morning was for Scrooge. I mean who doesn’t want to wake up and yell at some kid to go buy them a turkey (should I have said spoiler alert)? So this season take advantage of the Choose Your Own Christmas Carol adventure that the theaters of Hampton Roads are offering you. Forget about mistakes of Christmas past and spend your Christmas present investing in memories for Christmas future.
We missed one! Alert readers called our attention to the fact that there is a sixth – yes, a SIXTH – presentation of Dickens’ classic tale of ghostly goodwill on offer here in HR this holiday season!
Local theatrical veteran D.D. Delaney portrays 22 separate characters his The Concise Dickens’ Christmas Carol. This fast-paced one-man show will run for a tenth consecutive year at The Venue on 35th for three dates only: Friday and Saturday, Dec. 18 and 19 at 8:00pm, and Sunday Dec. 20 at 3:00pm.
The Venue are playing coy as to whether the show will return for an eleventh season next year, so this may (or may not) be your last chance to see it. Tickets $10. Call (757) 469-0337 for reservations.