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A Christmas classic with a twist


We were lucky enough to be able to go to opening night of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at The Grand Theatre on Friday night, a show that we had also seen -- and loved -- at The Grand last year, too. This year's performance promised to have a little bit of a twist of over last year's incarnation, however. In fact, this twist hadn't been done in any other mounting of this classic Christmas tale that I'd ever seen, or even heard of, before: The role of Scrooge was to be played by a woman.


Jan Alexandra Smith in the Grand Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

I will admit that at first I had wondered how the gender flip-flop of this role was going to affect the story. After all, Scrooge is a man! He is the iconic, UNCLE Scrooge, right? Well, as the saying goes, just because something has always been done a certain way doesn't mean it has to continue to be done that way. As it turns out, this change-up was a very inspired idea indeed.

Jan Alexandra Smith stars in the role of Scrooge, a role she so completely embodies, both in the ways we expect and in ways that we, as the audience, couldn't have imagined. From her voice to her mannerisms and even to her posture Smith is, in every way, quintessentially Scrooge.


Jan Alexandra Smith in the Grand Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Another true stand out in this production was Mr. Fezziwig, played here by Steve Ross. His performance was laugh-out-loud funny, making others I've seen in this role in other cities "ale in comparison." (Haven't seen the show yet? You'll get the joke when you do). We should all be so lucky as to have an employer like him!


Ensemble in the Grand Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Fred, played by Aidan deSalaiz, was another favourite, his holiday spirit and infectiously upbeat personality serving as the perfect foil to his aunt's less-than-festive attitude.


Jan Alexandra Smith, Aiden deSalaiz, and Amaka Umeh in the Grand Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

I won't spoil anything about the production here for those who haven't yet seen it, but I will say that one of my favourite scenes is right at the beginning of Act 1 when Mistress Scrooge is in her office, hunched over her ledgers, feverishly channeling every bit of disdain she has for the holiday season down through her arm, into her hand, and out through her quill as she furiously scribbles across the page. Just that small detail was a fitting foretelling of just how completely Smith was to step into the role of Scrooge and wear it so completely from the first moment of the production to the last. Smith is a revelation in this role, and I cannot wait to follow her to whichever production she is in next. (She also stars in the role of Johannah Donnelly in the Grand's production of VIGILANTE).


Ensemble in the Grand Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Dahlia Katz.

Another favourite scene was at the beginning of the second act, when the cast members do something on stage that is so magical and so evocative of the holiday season that the audience is instantly compelled to suspend its disbelief that what the production team was able to pull off on stage is actually happening! Pure holiday magic

From beginning to end, this production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL was truly magical. Watching this show was like peering, wide-eyed, into a Christmas snow globe as the scene unfolds not only before our eyes, but also all around us, as the set, the story, and the scene was so immersive as to make the audience feel truly transported back to Victorian England as we are carried along for the ride that fateful night that would change the course of Uncle -- I mean Auntie -- Scrooge's life forever.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL runs now through December 23. Tickets are available at www.grandtheatre.com or by calling (519) 672-8800.

#theatre #TheGrandTheatre #TheGrandTheatre #Holidays2018 #AChristamsCarol #Scrooge

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