- For the 37th successive year, The Milwaukee Rep has
presented “A Christmas Carol” in the beautiful Pabst
Theater. This is the second-longest run of this show in the
United States. From its opening Nov. 29 to its close on Dec.
23, this year’s talented cast will entertain and inspire
audiences 27 times.
people keep coming; some as newcomers and some as longtime
year, The Rep did not use one of its own for the key role of
Scrooge, and although I have enjoyed Jonathan Daly, Lee Ernst
and James Pickering in the role for many years, a new face and
an actor with such prestigious credits and talents has infused
new life into the production. Chistopher Donahue is especially
vibrant after his transformation. He brings both angst and
humor into the role.
actors, some of them new to the scene, also created
distinctive characters. Ghost of Christmas Present as
portrayed by Melody Betts is a bigger-than-life figure not to
be ignored. Did her parents give her that name, or did some
director bestow it on her upon hearing her sing? Wow, on all
Friedman is strong in her dual roles as Mrs. Dilber and Lucy.
She knows how to get a laugh. I especially liked Jonathan
Wainwright’s portrayal of Bob Cratchit. His warmth and
optimism are apparent. He is very lovable, best Cratchit
I’ve seen in years.
Sottile is very strong as Fred, Scrooge’s persistent nephew.
Among the children, Luke Brotherhood shines as Smudge, and
Jack Triton and Kate Ketelhorn, who alternated in the role of
Tiny Tim, both enunciate beautifully.
Neugent as ever is able to transform himself convincingly into
the macabre Jacob Marley, the conniving Old Joe and the proper
minister, Rev. Waghorn. What can’t Neugent do?
Bradley Kellogg’s stunning set, Martha Halley’s sumptuous
costumes and Barry G. Funderburg and Thom Weaver’s ambient
sound and lighting designs all contribute their aesthetic and
technical wonders so that changes and atmospheres are created
and maintained. There were times I could hear the wondrous
gasps of children in the audience as scenes changed and
certain effects were created.
story of redemption echoes through the years. Humans are
certainly capable of greed, pettiness and selfishness. They
are also capable of love, forgiveness and hope. We’ve
probably all been somewhere on the continuum many times in our
lives. We’ve all made mistakes, experienced regret and tried
to change. We relate to Scrooge and to Fred and to Bob
Cratchit. We also
can empathize with Belle as she feels neglected by the young
Scrooge who chooses ambition over love. We have all worried
about a sick child or wondered if we will be pleased with our
life as it comes to a close. There’s enough to ponder here.
there is much to derive from this story, and when it is told
with such splendid music and masterful acting against such an
amazing backdrop, we are apt to gain more than we would from
merely reading it.
Charles Dickens published this story in serial fashion for a
magazine, how could he have ever envisioned its long life, its
many altered versions and the millions of people who have
gained from the experience of it?
saw three different productions of it at the Fireside Theater,
Lake Country Playhouse and The Rep’s in the past couple of
weeks, and I still enjoy the variations in its presentation
and the continuing relevance of its message.
Christmas Carol” runs through Dec. 24 at the Pabst Theater,
144 E. Wells St., Milwaukee. For show times and tickets, visit
Ticket prices range from $15 to $70.