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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Milwaukee Rep’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ continues to dazzle audiences
Scene from the 2014 production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Rep. Photo via

Whether it be the genius of Charles Dickens or the cultural affinity so many of us feel for the holidays, it’s astonishing that “A Christmas Carol,” a play which over the past 170 years of its existence has been referenced in nearly every facet of pop culture, can still capture people’s appreciation every December.

Similarly impressive, is how after 40 years of entertaining the Milwaukee community with Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” The Milwaukee Repertory Theater continues to put on a show that is visually appealing, festively energetic and perfectly cast. The show runs until Dec. 24.    

Expectedly so, the technical aspects of this year’s production are exquisite. The show’s versatile sets and beautifully crafted costumes are a visual treat straight from Victorian era England. Additionally, lighting helps seamlessly transition the audience through Scrooge’s many realities.

However, much the like the theme of the holidays, it isn’t material things like decorations or lights that make this show most special, it is the people involved. Through its wonderful cast, the Rep’s production of “A Christmas Carol” embodies the solidarity and affection characterized by the holiday season.

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Johnathon Smoots stars as a magnificent Ebenezer Scrooge. He turns the iconic figure, who is commonly reduced to a stereotype, into a dynamic character. The audience can observe the compelling personality of Smoots’ Scrooge as he changes from a greedy curmudgeon to London’s most generous Christmas fan.  

However, just as a beautifully decorated Christmas tree requires both a star and ornaments to make it complete, this show wouldn’t be half as dazzling if it weren’t for its entire energetic cast. Scrooge may be the main character, but it’s the performances of all the cast members, who bring personality and vigor to their roles, that makes the show particularly exceptional. 

To watch the flamboyant characters of Mr. and Mrs. Fizziwig dance around in Scrooge’s past, or Scrooge’s nephew play games with his joyful friends at their Christmas party in the present, is nothing short of delightful. Jokes are expertly delivered and every character is as appropriately amusing or dignified as they need to be.

While the humorous scenes are boisterous, the dramatic parts are equally striking. When Bob Marley first appears in a cloud of dark smoke with his ghostly voice booming, it’s impressively terrifying and a stark contrast to Scrooge’s grouchy bantering in the previous scene.

The entire show does a superb job of balancing such moments, which contrast Scrooge’s repentance with holiday celebration. This makes the well-known story fun to watch and intriguing for both old and new fans.

The most noticeable creative choice that shines in Repertory’s unique rendition, is the show’s use of music. Despite not being a musical, the cast serenades the audiences with classical Christmas carols at multiple points throughout the show.

Not only does this act further demonstrate the emotional power and unity that the strong cast brings, but it also echoes the warm feelings of the holiday season.

Depending on the scene, the singing can be heartwarming and emotional, like when “The Holly and the Ivy” is performed or joyous like at the end when the audience is invited to participate in an energetic sing-a-long with the cast.

“A Christmas Carol” takes all feeling of the holiday season, wraps it into one neat show, and delivers this uniquely crafted gift to the entire audience. 

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    Eric teschDec 11, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Very nice article. Just saw CC for the 33rd year in a row last night. It is always great, but feel this year’s show is the best so far