Same Old, Same Old….Except Not

Yes, Charles Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in 1843. Yes, the classic tale is still the same after all these years (for the most part—Crispin Whittell’s adaptation, used by the Guthrie, takes a few liberties to freshen it up). And yes, the set and most of the costumes are the same (which, in my opinion, should also count as reasons for why you should to see it again—both are gorgeous).

So why, if nothing really has changed, should you dish out the cash to go see the show yet again? I’m glad you asked.

Reason 1: J.C. Cutler and Crew

J.C. Cutler as Scrooge. Photo by Michael Brosilow

I know, I know, Cutler played Scrooge last year, just like Jay Albright played Mr. Fezziwig, Robert O. Berdahl played Ali Baba/Ghost of Christmas Present, Kris Nelson played Bob Cratchit, Suzanne Warmanen played Mrs. Fezziwig/Bunty, Angela Timberman played Merriweather, and Bob Davis played Marley. But this is precisely why you should see it again: these actors are the best of the best, adding humor, humanity, and wit to these ages-old characters. Seriously, I challenge you to find a more hilarious Merriweather than Timberman’s version or a better-suited Mr. and Mrs. Fezzigig than Albright and Warmanen. This cast has something special, which in turn makes this Christmas Carol special.

Reason 2: To Discuss the New Guy

This year’s Carol introduces us to Young Marley, played by Torsten Johnson. The added dimension of Scrooge’s past puts an interesting twist on his future decision to change his ways and, during the car ride home, was seen as unnecessary by some of my family members and enlightening by others. Go check him out for yourself, and post your thoughts below.

Reason 3: The Improvising

I may be wrong here, but I’d bet good money that Cutler has a bit of fun with his lines. Not during the more classic scenes, but when he’s left alone in his bedroom awaiting the arrival of the ghosts? Let’s just say even he seems surprised and entertained by some of his asides. Regardless of whether they’re conjured on the spot or worked into Whittell’s adapted script, Cutler’s sarcastic-yet-sentimental Scrooge revives the show, carrying it through yet another Christmas season.

A Christmas Carol
Through December 29
Guthrie Theater, 818 S. Second St., Mpls.