A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens, adapted and directed by Michael Shamata, with Joseph Ziegler, Kevin Bundy, Susan Coyne, Oliver Dennis, Deborah Drakeford, Patrick Galligan, Tanja Jacobs and John Jarvis. Presented by Soulpepper Theatre at the Premiere Dance Theatre (207 Queen's Quay West). Runs to January 6, Tuesday-Sunday 7:30 pm, matinees Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 2 pm (no matinee December 20, no shows December 25 or January 1). $45, youth $25. 416-973-4000. Rating: NNN
there's no humbug in soulpep-per's production of the holiday classic A Christmas Carol. Instead, Michael Shamata's version, which he also directs, touches the heart. It's pared down, consciously theatrical and features a talented group of performers.Anchoring the show, fittingly, is Joseph Ziegler's initially pinched-voiced and -faced Scrooge, for whom money is all.
But Ziegler makes clear that covetousness isn't this Scrooge's drive; rather, business is something he's embraced by default after turning his back on love. That lack of human warmth eats away at him, and it's clearly the reason he rejects his nephew's hospitality.
Over the course of the show we watch Scrooge's frozen heart melt, and Ziegler adds some nice comic touches along the way as Scrooge learns to stretch his out-of-use emotional muscles with boyish pleasure. Ziegler falters only in the scenes of Christmas Yet To Come, where he and Shamata's direction provide generic rather than specific feelings. Too bad Shamata also rushes by the Christmas Past scenes so quickly that they fail to resonate.
Elsewhere there's some fine work from the company, notably John Jarvis doing quintuple duty as the narrator and all four ghosts, and, also in multiple roles, Patrick Galligan, Tanja Jacobs and Oliver Dennis. Graeme S. Thomson's spooky and atmospheric lighting illuminates John Ferguson's multi-purpose courtyard set and Julie Fox's fantastical costume designs for the ghosts.