A view from the Cliff: “A Christmas Carol” sung by Heights Players

The Heights Players’ 59th season continues with a different twist to the beloved Dickens tale, “A Christmas Carol.” The troupe actually concludes their performance by singing a warm, wonderful Christmas carol written by their musical director Matthew Martin. The entire cast fills the stage, facing right, left and center. With the biggest smiles and most sparkling eyes, they brighten the season for everyone.

The new version of the Dickens inspired play, written just a handful of years ago by Crispin Whittell is more “kid friendly” with a different look at some of the major characters. It’s directed in Brooklyn Heights by Kristen Keim. Right from the start, old Marley’s ghost (Bill Wood) appears with his infamous chains but with much less terror. Was that a mischievous grin on his face? Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge (Raymond O. Wagner) is much more articulate, better dressed and more neatly groomed than many of his predecessors. His mellifluous voice and graceful movements make his most threatening scenes (dare it be said) almost pleasantly avuncular. Nicely done!

The ghosts of Christmas Past (Chelsea Krause), Present (Chris Vivolo) and Future (Samantha Baptiste) make the most of their costumes (Thomas N. Tyler), lighting (Leo J. Contrino) and interchanges with Scrooge. Happily, the often disconcerting cemetery scene has been diminished (Paul Keim, set design and Steve Jacobs, sound). The shrieking anti-holiday behavior generally expected of Scrooge is passed to Merriweather (Valerie O’Hara), who is more comical than frightening.

Photos by Joe Pacifico
Photos by Joe Pacifico

Strong performances by David Mackler as humble Bob Cratchit and Jill Lewis-Kelly as his proud, practical wife provide the right holiday message. Their kindness, love and sacrifice are the essence of “family.”  Of course, fragile but optimistic Tiny Tim (Mariana Rose Weaver), represents the best of this holiday spirit. Ultimately, Scrooge must follow their example and change his selfish ways!

Flighty Fezziwig (Alex Amarosa) and his wife Ivis C. Fundichely always add a lighthearted touch to any version.  Poignant scenes include Belle (Alyson Ryan Fuchs), the love Scrooge loses in the name of greed.

The talented cast members and production staff too numerous to acknowledge by name, continue to provide the Heights Players with well rounded presentations. For information on this and future productions (“The Graduate” in January), call (718) 237-2752 or surf to info@heightsplayers.org.As always, save me a seat on the aisle.

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