Gerry Mackay (Ghost of Christmas Past), Amanda Lisman (Belle), Conor Wylie (Young Ebenezer) and Tom McBeath (Ebenezer Scrooge) star in A Christmas Carol, on until Dec. 17 at The Belfry Theatre. Photo by Don Craig

Belfry’s Christmas Carol loyal to original story

Victoria production runs through Dec. 17 in Fernwood

When a theatre company mounts a production of a beloved classic story, there’s always a risk of presenting an interpretation that falls short of audience members’ expectations.

Belfry Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol, on now through Dec. 17, hits the mark with its rendering of this classic Charles Dickens holiday tale, especially for someone whose memory of Scrooge began with the 1951 movie of the same name starring Alistair Sim.

From Tom McBeath’s multi-layered portrayal of Ebenezer Scrooge, the miserly and cold-hearted loner who gets visited by spirits aiming to reform his character; to the effective and efficient use of the Belfry stage to convey varied settings and create interesting choreographic elements, the cast and crew pulled off a winning performance on opening night.

Having played the role a couple of years back, McBeath expertly ran through a range of emotions, showing the joys and heartbreak of Scrooge’s young life and the personal redemption that Dickens wrote for the character back in 1843.

The pace of the production, adapted for stage by Belfry artistic director Michael Shamata, who also directed, was measured but didn’t seem to drag. It gave audience members a chance to think about the overarching theme, which seems as relevant today as it did in the mid-19th century.

There were a few points along the way when Scrooge was left alone on stage waiting – twice for the arrival of a spirit and once for the arrival at the office on Dec. 26 of Bob Cratchit – and it may have seemed that someone missed their cue. Not sure whether those moments were planned or not, but each offered a chance for McBeath to illustrate Scrooge’s impatience.

The supporting cast were strong, including Evan Frayne as the meek, but kindhearted Bob Cratchit (on top of other smaller roles); Conor Wylie as Fred, the nephew determined to have Scrooge share Christmas; Celine Stubel as the much-suffering Mrs. Cratchit, and the Cratchit children (William Robertson, Peter; Lauren Alberico, Martha; Azura Lepard, Belinda, and Jude Culham-Keays, Tiny Tim) ably captured the spirit of the family.

While his scene is somewhat short, Brian Linds returns as Mr. Fezziwig, providing a burst of energy as the life of a past Christmas office party and showing why he earns Scrooge’s adoration as a man who brings happiness “quite as great as if it costs a fortune.”

The often present spirits (John Han and choreographer Jessica Hickman), who entered and exited the stage with a flourish, were a nice touch, adding layers of depth and continuity.

And the presence of Gerry Mackay, first as the narrator and later as the spirits of Christmas past, present and yet to come who visited Scrooge, was a common thread running through the performance. He did some foreshadowing in the opening scene, telling the audience that the “ghost light” on stage would not be needed tonight, as this was a “ghost story.”

Overall, Shamata’s script and the performances given remained quite faithful to the original story. Those who appreciate tradition will walk out impressed, while those who may not know the story may well find themselves searching out versions of A Christmas Carol on cable TV.

editor@vicnews.com

On stage:

A Christmas Carol plays every day except for Mondays from now through Dec. 17 at The Belfry Theatre

• Shows run nightly at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Matinees run at 1 p.m. Dec. 6 and 13; 4 p.m. Dec. 9 and 16 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 10 and 17.

• Tickets may be purchased online by clicking on individual shows at belfry.bc.ca/calendar, or by dropping by the theatre box office at 1291 Gladstone Ave.

Belfry Theatre

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria gets new collegiate baseball team, training facility

Golden Tide coach wants to see as many local kids play for the HarbourCats as possible

‘It’s a boy’: Southern Resident killer whale calf born to J Pod is healthy, researchers say

J35 had previously done a ‘Tour of Grief,’ carrying her dead calf for 17 days

Severe thunderstorm watch in effect for Greater Victoria

Thunderstorm may produce strong wind gusts, large hail and heavy rain, warns Environment Canada

Sooke couple that owned Sooke Harbour House given $4 million after lengthy court case

B.C. Supreme Court rules in favour of Frederique and Sinclair Philip

Local MP Elizabeth May likes aspects of throne speech, but questions execution

According to May nobody is as ‘reckless’ as BC’s John Horgan in dismissing snap election

B.C. reports 91 new cases as officials remain worried over ‘clusters of COVID-19

There have now been a total of 8,395 cases in B.C. since the pandemic began

Canada’s active COVID-19 cases top 10,000 as daily new cases triple over the past month

Dr. Tam repeated her warning to young people, who have made up the majority of recent cases

First 8 months of fatal overdoses in B.C. have now exceeded 2019 death toll

Nine people died every two days in August, BC Coroners Service data shows

Liberal effort to reset policy agenda panned by rivals as too much talk, not action

Trudeau said it’s ‘all too likely’ families won’t be able to gather for Thanksgiving next month

‘Show us the money’ for cannabis, local governments tell B.C.

Municipal tax, transit revenues falling as costs rise

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cops for Cancer: COVID-19 can’t stop Tour de Rock

‘having the chance to come back and ride this year means everything to me’

People ‘disgusted’ by COVID-19 election call, B.C. Liberal leader says

Andrew Wilkinson speaks to municipal leaders from Victoria

Horgan blasts B.C. Greens for refusing youth overdose detention

Lack of support key to B.C. election call, NDP leader says

Most Read