OFFBEAT: Musical 'Christmas Carol' a specter spectacular

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-11-19T00:00:00Z OFFBEAT: Musical 'Christmas Carol' a specter spectacularBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

A favorite aspect of Charles Dickens' classic tale "A Christmas Carol" comes from the haunting lessons learned from the parade of spirits who come face to face with stingy Ebenezer Scrooge.

If it weren't for these ghostly uninvited guests, the most famous penny-pincher of literature would never have learned his lesson.

With the new, bursting with spirit production of "A Christmas Carol: The Musical" at Theatre at the Center in Munster, director Bill Pullinsi makes sure audiences get their money's worth in the haunting department, since this Scrooge gets to encounter 12 ghosts during the breezy, fun and festive two-hour one intermission musical.

Chicago actor Larry Adams is center stage as Scrooge and with his command of the role and energetic approach, you'd believe he's an old pro veteran of having played the famed miser many times before. But actually, this is his first time and he's right at home behind those bristled sideburns.

Adams has an amazing voice that is warm and welcoming in the range of powerhouse large musical numbers he must lead.

"Christmas Carol: The Musical" runs until Dec. 22 at the Center for Visual and Performing Arts in Munster.

Disney Composer Alan Menken, the man behind the music of "The Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast" and "Aladdin," also created this musical and it's with good reason it's so adored by theater audiences.

"A Christmas Carol: The Musical" was a smash hit in New York for nearly 10 years, presented annually at Madison Square Garden every December from 1994 until 2003.

Based on Dickens' beloved novel, "A Christmas Carol: The Musical" is set in London in the 1800s. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is confronted by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The ghosts, along with the added spooks I refer to earlier providing a fun ensemble of specters for one scene, hope to change his destiny and save his soul. They reveal the possible results of his selfish, uncaring life, as audiences travel with Scrooge as he sets off on a strange and magical journey, where he ultimately discovers the true spirit of the holiday season.

Joining Adams is Matthias Austin as timid Bob Cratchit, Shelley Crawford as willful Mrs. Cratchit, David Hathaway as ever-optimistic nephew Fred, Patrick Tierney as a dapper Young Scrooge, Megan Long, showcasing her enchanting voice as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Jonathan Butler-Duplessis as Ghost of Christmas Present, Jen Donohoo as Ghost of Christmas Future, Kristin O’Connell as wistful Emily, Ron Keaton in great form as Marley's Ghost, Kathleen Gibson as fun Mrs. Fezziwig and Killian Hughes as meek Tiny Tim.

It's been some time since I've seen a show with such a lively and talented cast of ensemble members who are able to quickly meld to the moment. For example, talented Brian Duncan is able to nicely fill out the waistcoat of Young Marley, only moments later, to also be seen as a dancing sprite, then a cheeky chimney sweep and even a crooked pawn broker, all in record time and, every next turn as convincing as the last.

The artistic team features brilliant choreography by Linda Fortunato and musical direction and orchestrations by William A. Underwood. The design team includes scenic designers Jackie and Richard Penrod who have raised an amazing set, with apt lighting designer Shelley Strasser-Holland, shivering sound design from Barry G. Funderburg and beautiful costumes designed by Brenda Winstead.

Tickets are $38 - $42 at (219) 836-3255 or

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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