NTC's Musical Take on Dickens' A Christmas Carol

David Bauer as Scrooge and Johnny DeBernard as the Ghost of Christmas Present in 
A Christmas Carol-A Musical at NTC

The Novato Theater Company's creative rendition of A Christmas Carol, a Musical, which premiered in 2010, opened November 25, 2011. Theatre Artistic Director Blanca Florido wrote the adaptation, with music by Andrew Klein, and lyrics by Florido.  This year's production includes four new songs.  Florido's adaptation parallels the original text closely with its message of social justice so relevant to today's economy.  

Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was a novella first published in 1843. The story tells of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge's ideological, ethical and emotional transformation as a result of the supernatural visits of Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

The Prologue begins on Christmas Eve in the 1840's exactly seven years after the death of Scrooge's business partner Jacob Marley.  Scrooge (David Bauer) is established in his counting house as a greedy and stingy businessman, who has no place in his life for kindness, compassion, charity or benevolence.  The next scene shifts to Scrooge's house/bedroom where he is warned by Marley's ghost (a strong performance by Johnny DeBernard) to change his ways so Scrooge might avoid a miserable afterlife like Marley.  Scrooge is visited by three other ghosts; each in its turn and each visit is detailed in a separate scene on a remarkable revolving stage which accompanies him to various scenes with the hope of achieving his transformation.  

The first spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Past (the lovely Monica Norcia) takes Scrooge to the scenes of his boyhood and youth which stir the old miser's gentle and tender side by reminding him of a time when he was more innocent.  The second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present (Johnny DeBernard in another remarkable performance) takes Scrooge to several radically different scenes--a joy filled gathering of people on a London street, the family feast of Scrooge's near-impoverished clerk, Bob Cratchit (a sympathetic portrayal by Jarrett Battenberg)  and a wonderful portrayal of Bob's wife by Kathryn Daskal.  A visit to the home of Scrooge's nephew Fred (a joyful performance by Phillip Swanson) is meant to evince from the miser, a sense of responsibility for his fellow man. The third spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Future (with a silent performance by Ian Lamers), harrows Scrooge with dire visions of the future if he doesn't learn and act upon what he has witnessed.

In the Epilogue, Scrooge awakens Christmas morning with joy and love in his heart then spends the day with his nephew and family after anonymously sending a prized turkey to the Cratchit home for Christmas dinner. Scrooge has become a different man overnight and now treats his fellow man with kindness, generosity and compassion, gaining a reputation of a man who embodies the Spirit of Christmas. Bravo to David Bauer as Scrooge who is completely believable in all of these changes.

Bravo, also to Director Blanca Florido for her wonderful direction of a cast of 25 actors as well as her adaptation and her wonderful lyrics.  

The revolving stage was amazing as were the sets by Gary Gonser and the period costumes by John Clancy.  

Composer Andrew Klein's songs were fabulous as was the piano accompaniment of Barbara Bacon-Shaw and cello by Monica Norcia.  

This is a great show for the whole family this holiday season.

Performances are held at Novato Theater Company Playhouse, 484 Ignacio Blvd., Novato; December 1-3, 8, 10, 15-17 at 8 p.m.; with matinees December 4 and 11 at 3 p.m. For tickets, call 415-883-4498 or go online at www.novatotheatercompany.org.

Flora Lynn Isaacson