“A Christmas Carol” (new adaptation)

 ***** Interpretation! That is what literature and theater are about! When we see plays, each reviewer posts what they say and felt about the script, the direction, the set, the acting etc, etc. In fact, if you go towww.theatreinchicago.com, as I always suggest to you, you may see as many as 14 reviews of the same play, an din many cases, we all viewed the same performance, yet, you may see a large selection of stars being used. That is why live theater is so great. Citadel Theatre Company, located in Lake Forest, is presenting a brand new adaptation of Dicken’s classic “A Christmas Carol” written/adapted by M.E.H. Lewis. I guess when I first was sent the notice about this production, I was unsure of how an intimate theater with a very tiny stage could possibly handle a play of ths magnitude.

I entered the small, 150 seat venue with some fears and doubts and upon sitting in my seat, peering at the wooden floored stage and the fairly plain set, that I was to keep an open mind. Citadel, which has been bringing quality theater to the North Shore since 2002, doesn’t have the budget to do the magical things that The Goodman can do ( year after year) or other productions of this classic Holiday fare ( the musical version in Munster, other versions in St.Charles and even Arlington Heights), but what they lack in finances, they make up in talent and desire.

 Director Shifra Werch uses the small stage to make this marvelous story come alive. Everyone knows the story ( or should by now). Ebenezer Scrooge (  a strong performance by Matthew Hallstein, who truly transforms before our eyes) is a rich money lender who hates Christmas and all the things it stands for. It has always been said that those who have a lot of hate in their hearts, have this effect because of some great “cause” in their past. In Scrooge’s youth, a boy who loved everything and everyone changed because of those around him and circumstances far beyond his control. 

In the story, which by the way is under two hours, including the intermission, we have a sort of abridged version in that we learn some of who this man is now, and then he is vesited by the spirits of his departed partner, Jacob Marley ( deftly handled by  Dan Deuel, who also does a fine turn as Fezziwig, a former employer) the Ghost of Christmas past (  a solid performance by Clare Cooney, who also portrays the silent, Ghost of Christams Yet To Come) and Christmas Present (Ross Frawley does a powerful job).


As we meet each of these spirits and they take us back into the life of  Scrooge, we get into his mind and his seeing that what he was is far different than what he has become and we watch as he pleads his case to be allowed to change back to the happy man he was in his youth. While we do not have the stage magic that the Goodman can bring to its annual production, we have a different sort of “magic”. One of great story telling that allows the younger audience members to get a better grasp on just what Dickens wrote this story about.

 This is indeed a story about  kindness and compassion and that the events around you can transform one from one type of person to another. But, changes can be altered and despite Scrooge changing to what he starts off as, the opening of his eyes by the spirits and the love that he sees allows him to re-visit his youth and his ideals and go to a “place” where he never expected to go back to.

 This is a small theater, allowing for very little in the way of sets, but Bob Estrin and Daniel Milsk did a remarkable job with a turntable wall that converted from London Street to Scrooge’s rooms and also allowed us to visit the Cratchit home as well. The role of Tiny Tim, the little boy who changes Scrooge is double cast- I saw Dlyan M. Lainez ( the other is John Turelli ) who was quite adorable. The lighting effects ( Justine Brock) and sound (Bob Boxer) and the props (Paul Cook) along with the costumes(Jason Lee Resler) are the finishing touches on a production that brings its own type of magic to the intimate theater located at 300 S. Waukegan Road ( just South of Route 60) in Lake Forest. The production will continue through the holidays- December 29th with performances as follows:

Thursdays 8 p.m.

Fridays  8 p.m.

Saturdays   8 p.m.

Sundays    3 p.m.

There will also be matinees on Wednesday, December 11th and 18th at 11 a.m. and Saturdays December 14th and 21st at 1 p.m.

Tickets range from $35.00 to $37.50 and can be purchased by calling the box office at 847-735-8554 or going to www.citadeltheatre.org

Remember, there ar eonly 150 seats and I suggest you not wait to place your order- this is a true experience for the family- affordable quality theater with free parking in the NorthShore. Let me also say, that this not what many call “community theater”, but rather “theater IN the Community”.

To see what others are saying, visit www.theatreinchicago.com , go to Review Round-up and click at “A Christmas Carol” but make sure you click on this one! It is well worth the time to do so!