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A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Alleyway remains fresh for 37th year

THE BASICS:  A CHRISTMAS CAROL, the Dickens’ classic adapted and directed by Neal Radice, runs through December 22, Thursdays and Fridays at 7:30, Saturdays at 2 and 5, Sundays at 2, plus December 22 (final show) at 5 at the Alleyway Theatre, One Curtain Up Alley (between Pearl and Main, just north of Shea’s). (852-2600) www.alleyway.comRuntime: 90 minutes including one intermission (souvenir CDs, mugs, and sweatshirt plus soda pop available). Arrive early and stay after for some particularly fine four-part mixed choir carol singing and photo-ops with background.

THUMBNAIL SKETCH: For the 37th year Alleyway faithfully (2018 review) (2017 review) presents the well-known story of the malicious, mean and miserly, misanthropic Scrooge who is visited by the three very convincing spirits of Christmas past, present, and future, followed by his change of heart, enjoyably presented in a traditional manner set in London, 1843, with a clever stage setting, all the way from the famous prologue – “Old Marley was as dead as a doornail” – to Tiny Tim’s “bless us everyone” at the curtain.

THE PLAYERS, THE PLAY, AND THE PRODUCTION: Returning to the stage and very comfortable in their roles are David C. Mitchell as Scrooge, James Cichocki as both Dickens/narrator and Scrooge’s Nephew Fred and for her 29th year Joyce Stilson as Christmas past. The caroling quartet, who take on many acting roles during the show proper are in S-A-T-B order: Emily Yancey, Lauren McGowan, David G. Poole, and Roger VanDette (who plays a great Spirit of Christmas past).

After the show I asked two of the actors independently of the other why this 2019 production was so satisfying. They each thought the reason was that the cast, brought back from last year, was very used to working with each other. So much so that they even canceled a rehearsal because they didn’t need it. In a town where many productions could have used extra rehearsals that speaks volumes.

As I wrote last year, I don’t think that I have to convince you that this is something that you should do. You know that. I think my job here is to convince you to get your tickets before it sells out, as it tends to do every year.

UP NEXT: FACTORY FOR MURDERERS, a new play by Scott McCrae, directed by Chris Handley, about Jack the Ripper, runs January 16, 2020 through February 8.

Also note that there are acting classes for adults (Adult Acting 101, 201, and 301) as well as an intensive workshop for teens and also a playwrighting class, all in February 2020.

*HERD OF BUFFALO (Notes on the Rating System)

ONE BUFFALO: This means trouble. A dreadful play, a highly flawed production, or both. Unless there is some really compelling reason for you to attend (i.e. you are the parent of someone who is in it), give this show a wide berth.

TWO BUFFALOS: Passable, but no great shakes. Either the production is pretty far off base, or the play itself is problematic. Unless you are the sort of person who’s happy just going to the theater, you might look around for something else.

THREE BUFFALOS: I still have my issues, but this is a pretty darn good night at the theater. If you don’t go in with huge expectations, you will probably be pleased.

FOUR BUFFALOS: Both the production and the play are of high caliber. If the genre/content are up your alley, I would make a real effort to attend.

FIVE BUFFALOS: Truly superb–a rare rating. Comedies that leave you weak with laughter, dramas that really touch the heart. Provided that this is the kind of show you like, you’d be a fool to miss it!

Written by Peter Hall

Peter Hall

Peter Hall continues trying to figure out how "it" all works. For 20 years, as program host on Classical 94.5 WNED and continuing on-stage with the Buffalo Chamber Music Society, he's conducted over 1,000 interviews with artists as he asks them to explain, in layman's terms, "what's the big picture here?"

As mentioned recently in Buffalo Spree magazine, Peter's "Buffalo Rising reviews are the no-holds barred 'everyman's' take." And, on “Theater Talk” (heard Friday mornings at 6:45 and 8:45 a.m. on WBFO 88.7 FM and Saturday afternoons at 5:55 p.m. on Classical 94.5 WNED) his favorite question of co-host Anthony Chase is simply "What's goin' on?"

A member of Buffalo's Artie Awards Committee, Peter holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and an M.B.A. from SUNY at Buffalo. For over twenty-five years he has been an adjunct professor for Canisius College’s Richard J. Wehle School of Business.

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