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“A Christmas Carol” at MMT: A Tradition and Holiday Perfection." By John Dwyer

Nothing is more classic Christmas than Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol.” One tradition for many families in The Delaware Valley is to attend Music Mountain Theater in Lambertville’s version, which is grand and brimming over with holiday spirit. Starting in 2010, there have been 12 holiday seasons of this show (one year skipped due to the pandemic). David Whiteman helms the show as Scrooge and has been doing so from the beginning. His Scrooge is irascible and miserly and his transition into the benevolent Ebenezer is real and warms the heart. It occurs, of course, because on Christmas Eve he is visited by 3 spirits: The Ghost of Christmas Past (Jill Gibilisco), The Ghost of Christmas Present (David McLoughan, Jr.) and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Alison McMullen/Nicole Calabrese)...not counting Jacob Marley, his former business partner. Louis Palena reprises his role as Bob Cratchit and the excellent Molly Chase is his wife.

The stage exudes love and a family spirit that seems to annually explode this time of year. From Thanksgiving to New Years, families celebrate gratitude, giving and rebirth. Gratefulness at Thanksgiving, love and charity at Christmas and Chanukah and hope/rebirth at New Years. In 2hours, “A Christmas Carol” encapsulates the feelings of gratitude, love, hope and rebirth. The feeling of family and home that is so rich in this production is unique because so many families are on stage giving us this delightful show. There are the Brennan/Palena’s, the Chase’s, the Pikril’s, the Madding’s, the Grushow’s, the Garafola’s, the Costello’s, Whiteman/Griffith’s and long-term couples who love each other very much.

I never get tired of hearing this score. I enjoy “Link by Link” sung by the talented Alex Klein as Jacob Marley. The choreography/staging of “Mr. Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball” and “Abundance and Charity” are delightfully fun. In the latter, the exceptional McLoughan glows with good will as the Santa-like Ghost of Christmas Present. “Dancing on Your Grave” is an appropriately haunting melody, with staging to match.

But in the end, it is “A Place Called Home,” “Christmas Together” and “God Bless Us Everyone,” with their sincere lyrics and simple tunes that touch the heart…that unique feeling of wistfulness and joy that brings a tear and a smile simultaneously.

It is said that every cast becomes a family during its run. It is especially true when so many are families. It is the reality of that love that makes this “A Christmas Carol” so real to its audiences. Kudos to the director Louis Palena and choreographer/costume designer Jordan Brennan.

Don’t miss this show. It should be on your Santa list. Tickets are available online.

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