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TheatreOCU's annual staging of 'A Christmas Carol' is a bit lackluster, but competent



A Christmas Carol
11 a.m. Thursday-Friday, 8 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday
TheatreOCU and Oklahoma Children's Theatre
Kirkpatrick Fine Arts Center, Oklahoma City University
2501 N. Blackwelder

This is my third time reviewing the annual co-production of "A Christmas Carol," mounted by Oklahoma City University's TheatreOCU and Oklahoma Children's Theatre. It's been interesting to see what changes are made year to year as different directors and casts put their own stamp on the adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel, by D. Lance Marsh, TheatreOCU's artistic director.

My introduction to this production was director Michael Todd's visionary take on the material, which amounted to what is still my favorite. It was engaging, entertaining and moving, despite knowing how it all turned out. It kind of ruined me on the play until I see something that can at least live up to that version. Unfortunately, nothing since has.

Promise is shown early on in this latest production with a single caroler singing on a deserted London street accompanied by the sound of blustery winter winds. But the dialogue scenes that follow suffer from some pacing issues and performances that fail to draw in the audience.

It takes a dead character to really bring the production to life. Brimming with a barely contained intensity, local heavy Doug Van Liew delivers one of the most memorable performances as the ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge's former business partner. 

Director Lyn Adams has done something interesting in her casting of the other three spirits. By casting a child to play the ghost of Christmas Past, an adult as Christmas Present and the usual shrouded death figure as Christmas Future, she's created a metaphor of the human life cycle.

Young Elayna Rodzon brings a great sense of lightness and fun to the role of Christmas Past, thoroughly enjoying every moment of stage time. As Christmas Present, Sarah d'Angelo delivers one of the more enjoyable performances. In a production full of performances that don't really jump off the stage, d'Angelo has fantastic presence, grabbing attention with a dynamic turn full of warmth with appropriate moments of darkness.

The set re-used from year to year still looks fantastic, and the costume work is pretty solid across the board. The lighting is generally good, mired only really by a slightly cheesy-looking star field used as backdrop.

As Scrooge, Mark Dillon is serviceable in the role, but just doesn't make the kind of impression necessary to carry the play.

As a result, the same can be said for the production as a whole. It's not bad, just not as interesting as it could be. "?Eric Webb


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