Theater note: Guthrie’s ‘Christmas Carol’ is still cheery after all these years

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I recently saw A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater, and like almost everyone, I was familiar with the story before entering the theater. But if I thought the old story would be boring, I couldn’t have been more wrong. This is the 33rd year that the Guthrie has staged this classic tale of redemption, Charles Dickens’s vision of the true meaning of Christmas. Forty-two adults and child actors, through skillful drama and lively music, deliver real joy to the audience.

The play is set in nineteenth-century London on Christmas Eve, when the selfish Ebenezer Scrooge is forced to examine his uncaring attitude and his relationship with himself and others. The ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Yet to Come visit Scrooge to show him how past events in his life influenced his behavior, and a future that is likely should he continue along the same path.

A Christmas Carol, playing through December 29 at the Guthrie Theater, 818 South 2nd Street, Minneapolis. For tickets ($29-$64), call (612) 377-2224.

I was mesmerized throughout the entire play, and I walked out of the theater with a renewed resolve not to be Scrooge-like this holiday season. Given the tears of the teen-aged girl sitting in front of me and the comments I overheard during intermission, I suspect that I was not the only person on whom the play made a deep emotional impression. The Guthrie’s production of A Christmas Carol is a fitting start to the holiday season.

Raye Birk plays the role of Ebenezer Scrooge for the third consecutive year. As he states in a video interview, “playing Scrooge is like doing missionary work that is absolutely vital to the community. The human message of the script is so profound,” he continues, “and my hope is that the audience follow the journey that Scrooge makes…and it that it means something more personal to them in their own lives.”

Jennifer Holder (jyholder@msn.com) is a regular contributor to the TC Daily Planet and the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.

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