The Colorado Mesa University theatre department premiered its second play of the year this past weekend with their adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Directed by Maridee Slater, a recent hire and Colorado Mesa alumnae.
An assumption from the production’s marketing implied the show was going to mirror the language of Dickens’ book, which was written in 1843, with some minor changes through trial and error. Through the trial and error came a unique adaptation that the theatre program has put together.
This trial and error allowed for some pleasant aspects and some unpleasant aspects throughout the production. With this being a student performance, acting added to the narrative but was not the entire strength of the performance. The narrator’s Carly Nugent, Riley Holmes, Katelyn Craig and Annie Imes were a part of almost every scene and did a wonderful job providing the backdrop of each scene. At points it was distracting as some narrators became a part of the scene and took away from some of the characters in the play.
During the first stave, or act, Ebenezer Scrooge (Peter Kisiel) is visited by Jacob Marley (Alexis O’Neill) who comes to show Scrooge that he will suffer the same fate of hauling around chains in the afterlife that was forged during his time alive due to his greed and bitterness. In this instance is where we see the first bit of change for this adaptation as Marley is portrayed by a woman.
We are then introduced to The Ghost of Christmas Past (Quiana McElroy). Dressed in a corset, lipstick and blue hair it certainly seems that a style was trying to be established. As Scrooge is led through his past, Kisiel continues to keep the crowd intrigued as small interactions kept viewers engaged. With small gestures towards the crowd and ability to make the audience laugh.
After the intermission, we are introduced to the Ghost of Christmas Present (Ashli Alderman) who has a long flowing cape that falls behind her. After visiting Fred’s Christmas party where Scrooge is ridiculed for not joining in the festivities of Christmas dinner year after year, they move on to the Cratchit family feast where a sense of merry and Christmas spirit immediately comes out. We are introduced to Tiny Tim (Parker Virden) who is known as one of the happiest characters.
Following the feast, Tiny Tim delivered a brilliant solo and showed off his complete range as a singer. The performance was immediately applauded afterward as the entire crowd was captured by it. Before we moved to the third act, we are presented with something that looks like it came out of a horror film as two kids with faces painted white reveal themselves from underneath the cape.
As we draw closer to the end of the classic tale, Scrooge has one more ghost to be visited by. The Ghost of Christmas Yet (Kyra Young) shows up and proceeds to take him to the scene of his death. It’s learned that no one mourns the death of Ebenezer Scrooge. When we learn of Tiny Tim’s passing, death (Antonio Hermosillo) becomes relevant as he follows around the Cratchits and begins an intriguing contemporary hip-hop dance that doesn’t seem to belong in the play. Along with the following of the Cratchit’s, “death” gets a solo that seems randomly thrown together and had no real substance to add to the performance.
With more than one style that is portrayed throughout the entire play, there were more than a few things that didn’t stay constant throughout. The story stayed pretty much true to the original novella. While Colorado Mesa continues to try to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to edgy plays, this one doesn’t hit its mark and falls short this time around.