The Old Town Temecula Community Theater was abuzz with Friday night excitement for the Temecula Valley Players’ rendition of “A Christmas Carol, The Musical.”
The musical, adapted from the classic novel by Charles Dickens, transported the nearly-full house inside the familiar tale of abundance and charity.
The red velvet curtains lifted to reveal 1840s London, in both bright and colorful period costumes and elaborate sets. The opening song, “Jolly Good Time” at the royal exchange revealed the heart and soul of the story, while showing the prowess of local actors and actresses of all ages.
Russell Rappel Schmid, playing the crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge, embraced his miserly ways with a ready “Bah! Humbug!” to anyone attempting to spread him Christmas cheer. Schmid’s declaration in the song, Christmas has “nothing to do with me” was perfect in its despicable greed.
And, when the ghost of Jacob Marley entered the room, following an earthquake of rumbling furniture, foggy mist, and zombie-like creatures, the stage was set for a show that wasn’t afraid to jar the audience from its seat.
From set theatrics of a floating face on the door to the zombie dancers who dragged around the stage in choreographed dance in stylized skeleton costumes, some younger audience members were squirming in their seats.
Still, the “Lights of Long Ago” as performed by Jacquelyn Peterson, playing the Ghost of Christmas Past, drew the audience and Schmid’s Scrooge onto his journey to redemption.
Jessica Ward, playing Scrooge’s mother, revealed the true relationship between the young boy Scrooge, his sister in the touching rendition of “God Bless Us Everyone,” pleading with her children to never harden their hearts. This young singer touched the audience with the primary message of the story and Schmid, even in his dressing gown and night cap, channeled Scrooge in a suffering moment.
Comic relief and bright, brimming merriment abounded in the Scrooge Christmas Past memory, “Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball” where the entire cast and ensemble made merry with genuine joy. The toasts, dancing and game of “Ratatatat! Oh!” made this party one to join.
And the high note hit by Sonia Watson, playing Mrs. Fezziwig, was worth the price of admission.
As the set turned bleak and Scrooge’s future grew more hopeless, Schmid transformed Scrooge from miser to philanthropist with infectious joy. In words and music, this production directed and choreographed by Ali Whitman showed the true heart behind the story.
It was made even more powerful through music under the direction of Brian Smith.
This is a fun, family show — great for kids aged seven and up. There are some scary parts and a few curses, worthy of the Bah Humbug, himself. A must see at Christmas time.
Presented by Temecula Valley Players, this time-honored holiday favorite is being staged Nov. 29-Dec. 9 at Old Town Temecula Community Theater. Tickets start at $20.
Old Town Temecula Community Theater is located at 42051 Main Street in Temecula.
For tickets or show times, visit www.temeculatheater.org.
Ashley Ludwig is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.