“A Christmas Carol” – Hale Centre Theatre

Theater Review – December 15, 2014

This review aired on KBAQ December 15, 2014


Hale Centre Theatre
Gilbert, AZ

I made a personal vow this holiday season to avoid every Christmas stage cliché I could.  I’ve had it with holiday extravaganzas but being a critic has required annual attendance at some shows so even though “A Christmas Carol” was on this year’s list of avoidance I realized I’d never seen the Hale Centre Theatre’s production that was celebrating its 12th anniversary this season.  When I walked into the Hale Centre, I was ready to see every tired gimmick associated with this perennial favorite but what awaited me is one of the best productions of the classic I’ve ever viewed.

The small theater-in-the-square is beautifully decorated to serve the story’s many 1843 English locales and the characters are decked out in lovely 19th century finery.  The many scenic changes are meticulously choreographed allowing the story to unfold dramatically.

Pleasant holiday songs add to the production’s snappy spark as the show weaves the tale of evil and cheap Ebenezer Scrooge who bah-humbugs his way through life making others uncomfortable and himself miserable until he encounters his overworked and underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit, and his modest but happy home life even though his son, Tiny Tim is physically challenged.  Scrooge learns a valuable lesson that it is better to give than to receive when he observes Cratchit’s family life.  The excursion causes a major transformation in Scrooge and he uses his resources to help Tiny Tim and the family cope with their many limitations.

Because the Hale Centre runs the popular show almost nightly during December, they use two rotating casts.  I saw the Red company that stars television weatherman Cory McCloskey as Scrooge.  McCloskey was appropriately miserly initially evolving believably into the more understanding and tolerant Scrooge.  Beyond McCloskey, the rest of the large cast, including several convincing children, wonderfully essays the many familiar roles.  There were even three subs from the other cast that blended in beautifully  The production is under the direction of David Dietlein who keeps the pacing bright so even though the initially somber story has several downer scenes, the production plays like a merry tribute to the season.

So like what often happens in “A Christmas Carol” productions, this critic left the Hale Centre in the Christmas spirit.  Hale Centre’s lovely-to-look-at and finely acted “A Christmas Carol” continues through December 24.  For tickets, call the Hale Centre Theatre box office at 480-497-1181 or order tickets online at www.haletheatrearizona.com.

Grade: A