Another Outstanding Review of A CHRISTMAS CAROL

This is a second terrific review of A CHRISTMAS CAROL. If you haven’t yet reserved your seats, DON’T DELAY!, they are going fast. Call 817-202-0600 or visit for tickets. Now read another fabulous recommendation of the show.

Don’t Be a Scrooge, Spend Time With Plaza’s A CHRISTMAS CAROL
by Paul Gnadt of The Star Group Newspapers

The Plaza Theatre Company regifted a surprise package during its biennial presentation of “A Christmas Carol,” playing through Dec. 22 at the Plaza Theatre in Cleburne.

It’s Steve Lindsay, a Joshua resident who — until this time two years ago — had not been seen on a Johnson County stage but has an acting and directing resume as long as Ebeneezer Scrooge is mean. He has a background in dramatic production at Bob Jones University and studied Shakespeare with the Royal National Theatre in London.

Lindsay plays Scrooge, and is so comfortable and confident in the role that you almost start to like the irascible old goat who — as everyone knows from this venerable tale written 170 years ago by Charles Dickens — hates Christmas and all the trimmings.

Another pleasant surprise is the adaptation which PTC cofounder JaceSon Barrus — who directs the production along with his wife, Tina, also a PTC cofounder — uses to move the story along: the centuries-old theatrical technique known as the chorus. Introduced in the ancient Greek theatre, the chorus offers a variety of background and summary information to help the audience follow the performance.

Centuries ago, the chorus consisted of a group off-stage singers whose songs filled in the blanks. Today, for example, we see a derivative of the chorus in sports movies, where the play-by-play announcer always provides information that normal sportscasters don’t disseminate.

On TV, especially in soap opera-type dramas, the chorus is the ubiquitous phone call where the person receiving the call on screen reveals all we need to know to bring us up to speed on the impending situation.

Barrus lets Lindsay, PTC veteran Jonathan Metting as Dickens (and Fred, Scrooge’s nephew), John Lewis as Bob Cratchit, Jay Lewis in four roles and others talk to the audience as a sort-of chorus to advance the story.

It works.

And kudos to PTC for making the “Ghost of Christmas Past” scenes and other spooky and graveyard sets a little less frightening yet still believable.

This is the third time I’ve seen PTC’s version of “Carol.” The first time was six years ago with my then-7-year-old grandson, who was too scared to enjoy the performance or comprehend its intended message.

Another surprise is the musical numbers in this story typically filled with sinister and scary ghost-like characters who appear to Scrooge as he visits Christmas past and Christmas future.

Leave it to the creative talents of Barrus and G. Aaron Siler, another PTC cofounder — and their family members — to bring not only music, but clever sets and technical devices to the production that is perfect for Plaza’s intimate 160-seat theater-in-the-round.

Although penned in 1843, the underlying theme of “A Christmas Carol” is timeless: a workaholic too busy for Christmas, a working-class family with a sick child and the redemption of a selfish miser who learns it is better to give than to receive.

As you most certainly know, Scrooge bullies his lone employee, Bob Cratchit (played by John Lewis), to whom he pays minimum wage and won’t allow to spend money for a lump of coal to keep his workspace warm.

Scrooge’s office is your introduction to the bare-bones but effective sets designed by Barrus, who, along with Nathan Glenn, also plays one of the charity men turned away by Scrooge as they seek a gift for the poor. The scenes involve only a large office desk for Scrooge and a school-type desk for Cratchit, but you get the idea immediately.

Other sets feature only a bench and fireplace for the Cratchit living room and a single lamppost for the town square.

It’s not all garage-sale items that supplement the acting and singing. Siler has created a neat reverberating device for the voice of Marley, the deceased partner of Scrooge played by Siler. A fog machine creates a spooky atmosphere for scenes when apparitions appear and a door knocker mysteriously transforms into a face.

Eden Barrus and Julie Hall share billing as Christmas Past and Jay Lewis is fun as Christmas Present. Emily Warwick is loving and tender as Mrs. Cratchit.
Mimi Barrus hits all the lines as Tiny Tim.

Adapted for the Plaza stage by JaceSon Barrus, who also designed the sets, with directional assistance by Daniel Scott Robinson, musical direction by Soni Barrus and costumes designed by Kara Barnes, this is a fast-paced presentation that is too full of good music, interesting costumes and good acting to be anything but a fun and entertaining night at the theater.

Give yourself a worthwhile Christmas present and see it.

Sadly, the production is dedicated to the memory of 13-year-old Caleb Midkiff, who had appeared in several past productions at PTC and with the Carnegie Players, who died Nov. 23 from an unknown illness.

“A Christmas Carol,” is presented at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and 3 p.m. Saturdays through Dec. 22 at the Plaza Theater, 111 S. Main in Cleburne.

There will also be special performances at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 10 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17-19.
Tickets — $12 for adults, $10 for seniors age 65 and older, $10 for students and $9 for youth age 12 and under, are available at the theater box office by calling 817-202-0600.

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