Theatre Review: ‘A Christmas Carol’ at Howard Community College’s Art Collective

The cast of ‘A Christmas Carol.’
Photo by Dave Harton.

A Christmas Carol, Howard Community College’s Arts Collective production, is a unique and festival adaptation of Charles Dickens’ classic tale. A play within a play, the show begins with the Stage Manager, played by Yury Lomakin and Prop Girl portrayed by Adrianne DuChateau, prepping for their production of A Christmas Carol. The ensemble cast is introduced, only to discover the actor playing Tiny Tim has been let go and the role of Scrooge is vacant as well. Prop Girl enthusiastically volunteers to play Tiny Tim. Then the Stage Manager is convinced to play Scrooge by the character of Mrs. Cratchit (Keri Estridge) and the cast. Besides, he knows all the lines.

Yury Lomakin embraces both the Stage Manager and Scrooge roles with such fervor that it is obvious he is meant to play these roles. Adrianne DuChateau is lovable in her dual roles as Prop Girl and Tiny Tim who is so adorable that audience members will want to reach out and give her a hug.

With all the festiveness, quirkiness, and just plain fun, the message of ‘A Christmas Carol’ transcends in this adaption.

Jessica Welch, who plays the Belly Dancer, Ingénue, and Belle, is just beautiful in all three roles. As the Belly Dancer, she is exquisite and brings forth grace and charm in her portrayal of Ingénue and Belle. Daniel Johnston is a master in his comedic roles as Clown, Ali Baba, and especially as the Mother-in-Law. He strikes such a balance with the somber scenes and the wisecracking one-liners.

Top Row: Clowns – Daniel Johnston and Kyla Hammond. Bottom Row:  Tiny Tim: Adrianne DuChateau, Scrooge: Yury Lomakin.
Photo by Dave Harton.

What is so clever about this enjoyable production is the ensemble cast of clowns. Yes, clowns, who fulfill the roles of Christmas past, present, and future. Rachel Bailey, Clown/Ghost of Christmas past, Kacey Gavlin, Clown/Ghost of Christmas present, Kathryn Hamilton, Clown/Ghost of Christmas present, Kayla Hammond, Clown/Ghost of Christmas present, and Edward Brence in the roles of Christmas future/Marley/ Schoolmaster, don bright, sparkly costumes as clowns that match with their quirky and playful characters. These actors work well together as well as play off of each other and give the audience oodles of laughs. Add in Elizabeth Ung, who plays two roles, one as the Musician and the other as the Juggler, encourages giggles that roll off the stage and tickle the audience’s funny-bone.

Mr. and Mrs. Cratchit, played by Gavin Shown and Keri Estridge are the ‘everyman’ couple that struggle with life’s challenges, yet still manage to keep their faith and kindness at Christmas time despite how Scrooge treats everyone around him. The bonus is Gavin and Keri’s duet, entitled “My Little One,” music and lyrics by Susan Seamans; composition adapted by Nischom Silverman. Their voices blend with the Cratchit’s love for their disabled son, Tiny Tim and fill the entire auditorium.

Rounding out the cast is Erin Adams playing Character Woman/Charitable Woman/Mrs. Fezziwig/Mrs. Fred, Bryan Czerwinski who plays Young Leading Man and Fred, and Ed Klein takes on the roles of Character Man/Mr. Fezziwig, and Jake the Fence. Key supporting roles, Erin, Bryan, and Ed have perfect comedic timing that tie in nicely with the seriousness of the plotline and their multiple roles.

With all the festiveness, quirkiness, and just plain fun, the message of A Christmas Carol transcends in this adaption. Kudos to the Hand Bell Director, Janelle Broderick, hand bell ringing is an added delight. Director and Choreographer, Jenny Male, uses the entire auditorium as stage space, breaks the fourth wall, and engages audience participation, which makes this production a spectacular event for all ages.

Running Time: 90 minutes with no intermission.

A Christmas Carol is playing through December 16, 2012 at Howard Community College, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia MD 21044.  For tickets call the box office at 443-518-1500 ext 0, or click here.