Great Lakes Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ is as smooth as a warm cup of egg nog


Christmas is all about family and traditions. This explains why the Great Lakes production of A Christmas Carol still sells out after thirty years on stage. Of course the other reason is that the company mounts an absolutely brilliant performance year after year after year.

This newest offering is no different. The children are as cute as all dickens (sorry), the costuming and stage sets are astounding, the story has all the elements of redemption from incorigable and even the singing is seasonal.

The Cleaveland family has gathered on Christmas Eve to drink warm drinks, sing carols and to read the Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol with the children volunteering their favorite quotes of the story. Master William (Avery Pyo) is trying to evade the clutches of the butler, Samuels (Lynn Robert Berg) who has been tasked with putting the youngster to bed.

As mother (Laura Welsh Berg) begins the festivities she allows William to stay. As the familiar story begins, young William begins to imagine members of his family and household as characters with father (Nick Steen) as Bob Cratchit, mother as Belle and Fred’s wife, Samuels as Ebenezer Scrooge and himself as Tiny Tim.

The story tells of Scrooge whose history of Christmas disdain is the stuff of legends. One Christmas Eve being the seventh anniversary of his partner Marley (David Anthony Smith) Scrooge is paid a visit by Marley’s ghost who warns him to change his ways or be condemned to carry chains for all eternity. Scrooge is also told that he will be visited by three spirits that include the Spirit of Christmas Past, Present and Future.

Although some minor changes in script and characters have been made the production is a nearly perfect match to past performances. This is a great comfort for those of us who like continuity. Lynn Robert Berg is excellent as the errant curmudgeon as he transforms into a man of immense charitable attributes. The three spirits: Past (Patrick John Kiernan), Present (Leilani Barrett) and future (Patrick John Kiernan) bring wonderful messages for the holiday season and Tiny Tim (Avery Pyo) is cute with his “God Bless Us Everyone.”

Although very young children may be overwhelmed by some of the scarier aspects of the show, those of grade school age and older will appreciate the story.

This long standing Cleveland Christmas tradition still sells out simply because it is so superbly done. It is the touchstone that a lot of families use to kick off the holiday celebrations. Come see it again and bring the entire family for a night of superb holiday theater.

A Christmas Carol runs through December 22, 2019 in the Mimi Ohio Theatre at Playhouse Square. For information and tickets visit www.playhousesquare.org, call (216) 241-6000 or stop by the Playhouse Square Ticket Office located in the outer lobby of the KeyBank State Theatre.

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Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.