A scene from The Footlights Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol.” Photo courtesy of Footlights Theatre

Those tempted to channel their inner Scrooge this time of year might do well to visit The Footlights Theatre in the next couple of weeks. It’s possible that you will (re)learn a thing or two from an up-close take on Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale. And you’re likely to have a very good time along the way.

Adapted by Michael J. Tobin, who also directs, stars and does most of the technical work, the Footlights version of “A Christmas Carol,” though it might at some point in the future benefit from a larger performance space, stokes the seasonal spirit with style within the cozy confines of the company’s theater in Falmouth.

The familiar story of the miser who cares about nothing other than the infuriating ways his employees, relatives and countrymen try to loosen his purse strings has always resonated. And the supernatural intervention required before Ebenezer Scrooge will check his moral compass makes for some slightly spooky but wholly entertaining fun.

In an engaging performance, with a heavy emphasis on reaction as things develop, the veteran Tobin gradually reveals his character’s backstory under the guidance of wise, wacky and menacing ghosts representing his past, present and future. Repressed memories of childhood trauma, unfulfilled romance and holiday good cheer mix with insights into his employee Bob Cratchit’s family situation. All serve to goose the befuddled businessman into a giddy, redemptive bliss.

The Victorian-flavored workplace and home settings, along with generally low lighting, add to the sense of a dark industrial age where spirits can teeter on the brink of despair. Moments of dance and song, though, enrich the overall feeling.  There is also more than a little comedy to smooth the edges for a play that has a little fun with itself while mostly respecting the bounds of the original.

Aside from Tobin, nearly a dozen cast members take on multiple roles, contributing to both fearsome and funny moments, as well as those that touch the heart.

Charlie Cole’s Cratchit is quietly dignified. Gretchen G. Wood is a flamboyant Ghost of Present. Greg Hawks gives spirit to the human side of young Scrooge. Brynn McQuaid is the independent love interest Belle. Cheryl Reynolds’ character puts the arm on Scrooge in the name of charity. Justine Wiesinger is a pragmatic doctor for the terminally cute Tiny Tim (Talia Spiegel).

Pam Mutty is an ethereal Ghost of the Past while L. John Van Norden makes Marley a restless spirit. Finally, Van Beckman is a dapper Fezziwig in an adaptation that Tobin says will soon be published.

Whoever produces this version elsewhere will be challenged to bring the heart and soul within the printed words to life as well as the folks at Footlights have done this holiday season.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.


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