Ebenezer Scrooge (Bob Oldfield) receives inadequate service from his housekeeper Mrs. Dilber (Eileen Podanowsk) in Powerhouse Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, which runs Nov. 28 to Dec. 8. (Photo submitted)

Ebenezer Scrooge (Bob Oldfield) receives inadequate service from his housekeeper Mrs. Dilber (Eileen Podanowsk) in Powerhouse Theatre’s A Christmas Carol, which runs Nov. 28 to Dec. 8. (Photo submitted)

Theatre Review: Vernon’s Powerhouse casts faithful portrait of Dickensian London

A Christmas Carol runs at Powerhouse Theatre Nov. 28 to Dec. 8

It’s a performance that has done so well before opening night they had to add another show.

While it officially opens Wednesday, Nov. 28, friends and family caught a glimpse of Powerhouse Theatre’s A Christmas Carol Sunday, Nov. 25.

Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novella, acclaimed Canadian thespian Michael Shamata’s script, which has seen stages from Vancouver to Toronto, is an honest and heartfelt re-telling of the text.

Ebeneezer Scrooge, brought to life on the Powerhouse Theatre stage to applause by Bob Oldfield, is the quintessential curmudgeon concerned solely with the acquisition of wealth. Forced trials and tribulations ensue as Scrooge is visited by four ghosts: his former business partner Jacob Marley (Jackson Mace) who leads the show and frightens unsuspecting audience members with his bellowing howl, the Ghost of Christmas Past, The Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Future.

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At the start of the production, Mace, who also sits in the director’s chair, turns out the ghost light — a theatre mainstay used to warn people of the stage’s ending and ward off spirits. However, Mace said as the light dimmed, A Christmas Carol is, in fact, a ghost story.

Mace delivers haunting chords as he swings his tormenting chains and warns Scrooge of his impending doom. The most frightening of the performances four ghosts — seven if you count the harlequins — Jacob Marley opens up the portal for otherworldly patrons.

Contrasting Mace’s haunt is the larger-than-life humour of the Ghost of Christmas Present. A heavily bearded Paul Rossetti climbs the ladder to don the ghosts’ spectral garb. All four ghosts lead our simultaneous protagonist and antagonist’s journey to find his heart — and that transformation is where Oldfield shines.

Originally on Powerhouse’s stage 26 years ago as Bob Cratchit, Oldfield plays the role of Scrooge to perfection. Throughout his transformation, Oldfield’s nuanced manner changes in tune with what the audience perceives on Powerhouse’s stage, which, as with many of their past performances, acts almost as a tertiary character.

A beautiful oil painting backdrop adorns the back wall of the stage, casting an image of Dickensian London. James Postill is the man behind the paint, both inside the theatre and the mural that adorns the side of the building. Postill’s painting was then scaled up to create the backdrop. Versatile buildings on wheels zoom in and out of centre stage to help paint the exquisite portrait.

Powerhouse Theatre took the frosty yet inviting set and Shamata’s true to the original script to create a theatrical bisection of London in a classic Vernon venue. All of these details combined correlate to the need to add another performance date.

“They have added a show on the night of Tuesday, Dec 4, so there will be one more opportunity to grab tickets from Ticket Seller,” said an ecstatic Mace following a top-notch family performance.

A Christmas Carol runs at Powerhouse Theatre Nov. 28 to Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 2 at 2 p.m. and Dec. 4 to Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available for $28 adult and $22 youth 18-and-under through the Ticket Seller, 250-549-7469, www.ticketseller.ca. Some scenes may be frightening for young children. Parental discretion is advised for kids aged six-and-under.


@VernonNews
parker.crook@vernonmorningstar.com

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