courtesy Trudie Lee

A Christmas Carol is a Christmas classic

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After 22 years, A Christmas Carol has become a staple in the Calgary theatre scene and it's easy to see why. Instead of reinventing the wheel, Theatre Calgary firmly focuses on perfecting Dickens' classic.

It's hard to imagine A Christmas Carol without Stephen Hair and his outstanding acting. With 17 years as experience at the forefront of Theatre Calgary's production, he captures the essence of Scrooge with his fully-believable miserable attitude. It's easy to despise his character and all that it represents -- he manages to portray a truly unlikable old man, grumbling and humbugging his way through the play. Dickens himself would have been proud. Hair's actions are truly characteristic of Ebenezer and he playfully makes the audience laugh with his quirky presentation of humorous lines.

Benjamin Arthurs, who plays Tiny Tim, tugs at heartstrings while putting the spirit of Christmas into perspective. This young actor emits such a presence on stage that he no longer seems a character to us, but a real boy with a real illness.

Each actor involved in the production gives everything they have, engaging in the essence of their characters. They bring the story of A Christmas Carol to life, drawing much emotion out of the audience.

Depicting 19th century London is a difficult task, but scenic designer Alexander Dodge, along with the help of associate scenic designers Kevin Judge and Kenichi Takahashi, does a terrific job. The set and props used help make the play a fully-immersive experience for the theatre goer. The way the set captures the sights and sounds of London helps the audience to feel like they are part of the drama. The ingenious use of trap doors provide a welcome surprise as characters pop out of crooks and crevices. The colours depict the gloominess of London and the sunny morning of Christmas Day with perfection. Each emotion in the play is enhanced with the perfectly fitting music that help tell the story the way it was meant to be told.

The play drives home the importance of love, life and family. No matter where we are in our lives, whether we are in a happy mood or having a bah humbug day, A Christmas Carol fills us with the spirit of love.

The audience is given an opportunity to donate to the Calgary Food Bank at the end of the play. It is the perfect message to be left with and integrates well with the play's overall appeal.

If you have the chance, get out and see this wonderful play.