Tag Archives: Sylvie Davidson

ACT’s ‘Christmas Carol’ Combines Bells ‘n Whistles With Emotion

I got to take my daughter Kate and her best bud Rebekah to “A Christmas Carol ” over at ACT in Seattle Sunday afternoon (Nov. 30), and it was a very special day.

I hadn’t seen ACT’s annual staging for quite a few years, and I remembered having mixed feelings about the in-the-round staging in the Allen Theatre.

Well, forget about those mixed feelings. Director Kurt Beattie and his cast and crew really have “A Christmas Carol” down to a fine science.

The main reason I wanted to go this year — besides giving Kate her first exposure to the Dickens classic, which to me is the story that best conveys the meaning of Christmas (at least in a secular way) — was to see Chimacum’s Amelia Rose Brummel , who’s in her second year in the cast. This year, she plays Belinda Cratchit and Lil Fezziwig.

She’s tremendous, of course, as is the whole cast. David Pichette , who plays Marley’s Ghost this year, is one of my favorite actors, as is Marianne Owen (Mrs. Cratchit). And I thought Allen Fitzpatrick made a wonderful Scrooge (Fitzpatrick, who I first saw in the 5th Avenue Theatre’s “Into the Woods” a couple summers ago, is double-cast with Sean G. Griffin this year as Scrooge; if we’d gone to the early show, we would’ve seen Sean, and I’m sure been just as pleased).

I know it’s a bit of a spendy thing to go to, especially if you take the whole fam. But it is a magical thing to watch them tell this revered tale, with their studied combination of technical bells ‘n whistles and plain, old-fashioned good acting. The kids were both entranced (and I admit I was, too, even though I’ve seen dozens of different versions of “A Christmas Carol” on various stages and screens).

Having the cast members come down the aisles, singing carols, to start the play really pulled the kids in right at the get-go; we had young Sylvie Davidson standing just a couple feet away from us, where we could hear her beautiful singing voice, and it was a great way to start (she later made the most beguiling Ghost of Christmas Past I’ve ever seen; both girls picked her as their favorite character).

I’ve seen Marley overdone more times than I care to. But I thought Pichette’s take was perfect — he (with the help of a battery of special lighting and sound effects) captured all the ghost’s pain and remorse, without once seeming over the top. It seemed as though Pichette had carefully considered every word Marley said, and was able to give it the maximum meaning.

(It was good that we saw Pichette in the lobby afterward, so I could show the girls that he really was just a regular guy, and not some horrible ghostie.)

The thing that impresses most is that, with all the fake fog and lighting and sound effects and trap doors and props lowered out of the riggings, ACT’s “Christmas Carol” still manages a considerable emotional wallop. That can be credited to good directing, years of honing the production, and a cast of fine, committed actors. All the performances we saw are made all the more remarkable, in retrospect, when you remember that it was the actors’ second show that day. And I bet if you go see them do the last show on the last day, there’ll be just as much energy and emotion.

We got to say HI to Amelia afterward, and meet her dad, Pete ; and then it was off to the Cheesecake Factory (burp!). The kids wanted to play “Christmas Carol Jeopardy” all the way home — where I would ask them about characters or things that happened in the play, and they would answer (in the form of a question, of course).

As always, I’m enjoying getting to see all the local holiday productions around Kitsap. But every once in a while, it’s good to get over to Seattle and see one of The Biggies — “A Christmas Carol,” along with Pacific Northwest Ballet’s “Nutcracker,” never disappoints.

More later … — MM