theaters

REVIEW: A new 'Christmas Carol'

Old Creamery Theatre singing a harmonious holiday tune

Moses de los Santos

The Spirit of Christmas Present (Marquetta Senters, right) gives Scrooge (David Q. Combs) a run for his money in “A Christmas Carol.” A lively and inventive adaptation of the beloved holiday tale is onstage at the Old Creamery Theatre in Amana through Dec. 17.
Moses de los Santos The Spirit of Christmas Present (Marquetta Senters, right) gives Scrooge (David Q. Combs) a run for his money in “A Christmas Carol.” A lively and inventive adaptation of the beloved holiday tale is onstage at the Old Creamery Theatre in Amana through Dec. 17.
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AMANA — Charles Dickens’ tale of two Scrooges has never been told in a more brilliant way on any Eastern Iowa stage.

Artistic director Sean McCall has discovered the perfect adaptation for the The Old Creamery Theatre’s intimate stage. Patrick Barlow’s 2015 script plays to the strengths of the Creamery’s stellar professional cast, ready to turn on a shilling to become everything from an ominous ghost to a Victrola to a crackling fire and jolly carolers.

It’s frightening, maddening and joyous, all rolled into a most satisfying theatrical package relying on just five actors, minimal scenery, dramatic lighting and thunderous sound effects. The cast and crew provide all the imagination, so all the audience needs to do is hang on for the chilling, thrilling ride.

As McCall says in his program notes, “this is not your grandmother’s” version. This one allows Scrooge to bellow and roar as the action reveals what chapters from his past haunt his present and threaten his future. David Q. Combs is simply marvelous in this role.

A veteran of Broadway (“Equus” with Richard Burton), soap operas and television shows including “Star Trek: The Next Generation” and “Criminal Minds,” he is in his element, slipping easily into the many guises of gleeful, miserly, crotchety, cantankerous and terrified, before his heart explodes with love.

Surrounding him are the most malleable cast members, transforming into set pieces and characters in the blink of an eye.

The ever-effervescent Marquetta Senters sparkles as a cockney widow, a mantel clock, a hilarious and horrifying Ghost of Christmas Present, housemaid and half of a bedroom window.

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Jackie McCall is a chilling Ghost of Christmas Past, Scrooge’s sparkling niece, the other half of the bedroom window and the doorway to Scrooge’s shop.

Steven Labine is a hoot as a Victrola, singing carols and winding down as the juice runs out. He also plays a blazing fire, Scrooge’s ever hopeful nephew Frederick, an adorable Tiny Tim, and the ominous Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

And Jeff March embodies the put-upon Bob Cratchit, terrifying ghost of Scrooge’s dead-as-a-doornail partner, Marley, as well as several rambunctious boys and girls.

The set pieces that aren’t played by the actors instantly whisk the audience to the show’s various locales. Designer Marianna Coffey has created a most splendid London rooftop silhouette for Scrooge’s time traveling travails, accented by Jim Vogt’s moody lighting design. Keegan Christopher’s costume designs, in shades of gray, not only firmly establish the 19th century settings, but also slip easily between eras and characters with lovely additions of cloaks, overskirts and hats. English carols woven throughout the show add a festive Old World flair.

The show plays through Dec. 17. Give yourself the gift of theater this season, and go back in time with this troupe to rediscover the importance of love, forgiveness and redemption.

If you go

• What: “A Christmas Carol”

• Where: Old Creamery Theatre, 39 38th Ave., Amana

• When: To Dec. 17; 2 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday; 7:30 p.m. Friday, Saturday

• Tickets: $10 ages 18 and under, $19.50 college students, $31 adults; Old Creamery Box Office, (319) 622-6262 or Oldcreamery.com

Another version

• What: “A Christmas Carol”

• Where: First Congregational United Church of Christ, 361 17th St. SE, Cedar Rapids

• When: 2 p.m. Sunday (12/3)

• Features: One-man show adapted and performed by Brent Alan Burington, a professional actor from Columbus, Ohio

• Tickets: $10 in advance, $15 show day, church office, (319) 362-1926

l Comments: (319) 368-8508; diana.nollen@thegazette.com

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We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.