It wouldn't be the holidays without A Christmas Carol. At least that's the thinking of Freefall Theatre, which is bringing back the musical version of the Charles Dickens classic that the St. Petersburg company debuted last year. It opens tonight with the first of 15 performances through Dec. 30.
With music by Bruce Greer and book and lyrics by Keith Ferguson, this Carol "works nicely because of its fidelity to Dickens, and the score, if not wildly inventive, is well made and goes down smoothly," said my review of last year's production. The performance is done to recorded orchestra tracks.
Steven Patterson again plays Ebenezer Scrooge, one of the greatest roles ever devised for an actor. "Patterson is up to the task," I said. "His Scrooge goes from roughly brushing aside a wreath that is playfully tossed on his top hat during some misguided frivolity early in the tale to inhabiting the miserable wretch forced to confront his own tombstone in On My Knees, the tortured aria he sings when he hits bottom."
The 22-person cast includes Laura Hodes, Joel Gennari, Heather Baird, Chris Crawford, Michael Shenefelt and Natalie Symons, as well as Freefall artistic director Eric Davis as Jacob Marley and Mr. Fezziwig and Morgan Myers as Tiny Tim.
Tickets are $39 and $46, with discounts for students, teachers, seniors and military. Tickets are $22 for children ages 5 to 18. Rush tickets for $22 are sold a half-hour before curtain to students, teachers and theater artists. Bring an unwrapped toy and receive a free child's ticket to this Saturday's 2 p.m, show; toys will be donated to Toys for Tots. (727) 498-5205; freefalltheatre.com.
Since 1979, the Nebraska Theatre Caravan has been touring the Charles Jones adaptation of A Christmas Carol, which is updated to 1886 (the original novella was published in 1843) so as to accommodate traditional English Christmas customs and music, such as God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Away In a Manger and Here We Come A-Wassailing. NTC's Carol, with a 28-person ensemble, has performances at 7 p.m. Wednesday and 2 p.m. Dec. 20 at Ruth Eckerd Hall, Clearwater. $25-$50. (727) 791-7400; rutheckerdhall.com.
John Fleming, Times performing arts critic