The annual holiday classic is back. “A Christmas Carol” opened this past weekend at the Guthrie Theater, this time featuring Twin Cities actor J.C. Cutler in the starring role of Scrooge.
According to local critics, this show features more comedy than in past years. And while most recommend the play, some feel this year’s rendition is a bit over-stuffed.
J.C. Cutler is Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”
Photo by Michael Brosilow
Is “A Christmas Carol” becoming a Christmas comedy?
It sometimes looked that way at Wednesday’s opening at the Guthrie Theater, the second year that Joe Dowling has applied his light touch to the classic. In his laughter-maximizing, pyrotechnic pastiche of styles, Dowling has amplified the humor in Crispin Whittell’s witty adaptation from the novella by Charles Dickens.
…the music-infused production, which nods to Victor Hugo and Gilbert and Sullivan, is funnier, broader and more emotionally varied than in years past.
[J.C.] Cutler delivers a lovely and understated performance, with none of over-the-top bluster that one so often sees with this character. This pays off big-time when Scrooge visits his past. This Scrooge is vividly confused and lonely, in his famous nightcap, in sharp contrast to the insensitive and greedy persona we get in the beginning. Cutler gives A Christmas Carol emotional depth – and makes the glitzy (and, all right, yes, occasionally over-the-top) production work.
J.C. Cutler (Ebenezer Scrooge) and Bob Davis (Jacob Marley) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of “A Christmas Carol”
Photo by Michael Brosilow
At two hours and 20 minutes, this “Christmas Carol” – like most Guthrie tellings of the tale – could profit from a couple more go-throughs with an editor’s sharp pencil. On balance, though, this new effort is a robust, worthwhile telling, one familiar enough to please traditionalists and different enough for those looking for a new shine on a familiar tale.
If you see A Christmas Carol, you’ll have a memorable, if not delightful, time (especially true for anyone under the age of 12). But you may tramp back out into the snow not feeling as full as you were hoping; it’s storytelling that plays out more like connect-the-dots than bonafide journey. It’s as if the opportunity to tell something of a better story was missed and, like figgy pudding, you may not be exactly sure what that something was.
Have you seen this year’s version of A Christmas Carol at the Guthrie Theater? If so, what did you think? Share your review in the comments section.