January 22, 2022

Those two little words tell the story> ‘Christmas Carol’ a joy

They are the words we wait for every holiday season. They can make our hearts giddy and light. They can remind us that we are all fellow passengers in this life. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without them.

So here it goes: Bah! Humbug!

Intelligent words. Remarkable words. Delightful words. And all because they commemorate the transformed spirit of Ebenezer Scrooge, the crotchety hero of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” which opens tonight at Penobscot Theatre in Bangor.

They are words worth hearing time and time again because they tell of a miser who finds a generous love after taking a long, hard look at his selfish life. It is a story that dares to wonder if a man’s heart can be changed, and, much to our joy, the hopeful answer is the very stuff of true Christmas spirit.

Luckily, Penobscot Theatre Artistic Director Mark Torres knows this story never goes out of fashion, never loses its humor, spunk and poignancy. His most critical decision for the show was casting Ken Stack as Scrooge. A member of the theater’s original company back in 1974, Stack does a whooping good job. He hoofs onto stage wearing a pinched-up face and jowly sneer, and, by the end, presents a truly new man — as happy as an angel and as merry as a schoolboy.

The rest of the community cast has the task of meeting Stack’s enthusiasm, and although no one turns in a performance quite as dynamic and imaginative as his, the show has its merits. Ron Adams, as Marley and other bit roles, and Joe Bennett as Bob Cratchit, are naturals onstage, and leave you wanting more.

A slew of kids — including high-schoolers Rebecca D. Young and Derek Drouin, as well as the little Francesca C. Anderson, Angela Warren, Joshua Van Santvoord, Nick Cyr, Hannah R. Bennett, Eliza Van Santvoord and the even littler but extremely poised Sarah Brewster — give this show a cuteness.

During last night’s preview, the cast, which is responsible for tricky scene shifts, had some unexpected technical challenges. If the actors get the shifts perfected, then Jay Skriletz’s set of movable boxes will have a real fluidity.

The show lasts about 90 minutes, which makes it ideal for young folks. And the message of bah-humbug gone good can last a lifetime — or at least until next December, which makes “A Christmas Carol” ideal for everyone.

“A Christmas Carol” will be performed 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday, 5 and 8 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 5 p.m. Sunday through Dec. 22 at Penobscot Theatre in Bangor. For tickets, call 942-3333.

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