Review: The Citadel’s A Christmas Carol

Ted Dykstra as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Citadel Theatre's new production of "A Christmas Carol." // Courtesy of the Citadel Theatre
A Christmas Carol
Citadel Theatre; directed by Daryl Cloran; written by David van Belle; until Mon., Dec. 23.
Our Score
A Christmas Carol

The Citadel Theatre retired Tom Wood’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol last year after a 19-year run, but that doesn’t mean the theatre is done with Charles Dickens’ classic tale. This season they’ve opened a new adaptation, scripted by David van Belle, and this time the story has a slightly more modern twist. 

The play is set in post-war America (the late 1940s or sometime in the 1950s maybe), and Ebenezer Scrooge (Ted Dykstra) runs a department store. Sadly Mr. Cratchit didn’t make it home from the war, leaving Mrs. Emily Cratchit (Alison MacDonald) to raise her children and work as a manager for Scrooge. This reimagining still hits all the familiar notes, but it also adds some new ones, as Christmas carols have been strategically added throughout to make it into a musical.

But perhaps one of the best additions is the practical effects. The previous version certainly used a little on-stage magic to bring the spirits to life, but this production arguably goes a little further to shock and delight its audience. It also embraces the ghost story aspect of A Christmas Carol in a way that’s a little spooky, but not so much so that it can’t still be enjoyed by younger theatergoers. 

Alison MacDonald as Emily Cratchit, singing to two of her children. // Courtesy of the Citadel Theatre

The costumes and sets are a treat, the lighting and sound design do their fair share to add to the magic happening on stage, and the liberties van Belle takes in adding scenes to the story feel narratively satisfying as opposed to weighing down the script.

Sasha Rybalko reprises her role as Tiny Tim from last year and is perfectly adorable, while MacDonald shines as Tim’s mother. Dystra, who was born in Saint Albert, is terrifically cold in the first part of the play, but does even better portraying Scrooge’s exuberance after his visits from the three spirits. Other standouts include Vance Avery as Mr. Fezziwig, Belinda Cornish as Mrs. Fezziwig, Lilla Solymous as the Ghost of Christmas Past, John Ullyatt as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Ben Stevens as Fred.

And, of course, compliments to the band, who play live on stage, adding even more magic to the tale.

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