Contemporary theater companies have long wrestled with making “A Christmas Carol” fresh and engaging.
We all know Scrooge and Tiny Tim and the play’s redemptive ending.
Playwright Doris Baizley has adapted the tale by creating a play-within-a-play. A traveling troupe of actors and clowns spill from an opened trunk.
“A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Baizley, opens at Albuquerque Little Theatre on Friday, Dec. 3, and runs on weekends with a final afternoon show on Dec. 24.
“It’s the same thing,” director Laura Cummins said. “It almost has a circus feel.
“I’ve always loved the story,” she added.
This “Carol” features the usual cast of characters – Scrooge, his underpaid clerk Bob Cratchit and a trio of ghosts.
Author Charles Dickens knew the spirit of Christmas and the culture of contemporary London were incompatible.
Before curtain time, a grouchy stage manager and a prop boy check the props, finding them shabby and third-rate. But the acting troupe improvises a magical world of make-believe. The actors portraying Scrooge and Tiny Tim disappear, so, of course, the actors draft the stage manager to play the old miser, while the prop boy eagerly volunteers for the role of Tim.
The troupe makes its way through the tale with the Christmas Spirits working their magic.
Cummins is a former music teacher who leapt to the stage 26 years ago because of her love of musicals. She helmed the ALT 2020 production of “Beauty and the Beast” that opened one weekend before closing because of COVID. She also directed the Musical Theatre Southwest version of “American Idiot.”
This adaptation of the classic story was initially produced to critical acclaim by the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.