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Lyric at the Plaza offers encore engagement of 'A Christmas Carol'
“Lyric's A Christmas Carol” had something for nearly everybody to relate to — whether it was the carols, the special effects, the acting of a stellar cast, or the abbreviated running time of the holiday classic.
Lasting less than two hours in the streamlined adaptation by director Michael Baron, the production did sometimes come across as Dickens-Lite, but, for the most part, a good time was had by all. The production features a set that suggested Big Ben towering over the silhouettes of buildings on a wintry London street.
Jonathan Beck Reed was a daunting presence as the early, Christmas-hating Ebenezer Scrooge, keeping his office too cold, and children, the poor and charitable types at bay, verbally or with his cane.
This made it even more moving when Scrooge's ice-hard certitude gave away to almost humorous uncertainty, followed by the giddy zeal of the convert when he rediscovers Christmas — and his own humanity.
Helping him achieve this near-miraculous transformation, ready or not, were the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, plus that of his “dead as a doornail” former business partner, Jacob Marley.
Confronting Scrooge, perhaps the most powerfully, was Thomas Cunningham as Marley, who emerged as a gray, ashen apparition, from behind his portrait, wearing “the chains he forged in life.”
Cunningham also had some great moments as the youthful Scrooge's boisterous but good-hearted boss, Mr. Fezziwig, dancing up a storm with his wife, played with gusto by Brenda Williams.
Jayme Petete was dazzling instead of threatening as the Ghost of Christmas Past, who seemed to enjoy flying, on a track over the heads of Scrooge and the audience, wearing a glittering white costume.