Review of "The Christmas Carol Rag" at BAT

Every year the holiday season brings out some of our favorite traditions in song and story, and this one is no different. This year however the Burien Actors Theatre’s, The Christmas Carol Rag (written by Norman Allen and musical arrangements by Howard Breitbart), presents a show that is as familiar as tradition, but with a slightly different spin on the Charles Dickens classic.

Although recasting Ebenezer Scrooge as Evelyn Scrooge (played by Cara Hazzard) is a change, nearly every element of the Dickens classic is left unaltered. Set in New York city in 1911, Evelyn is a shrewd and miserly business woman, with a chip on her shoulder and much to prove. Though she is miserable to be around and shows no interest in anything but the bottom dollar, Evelyn is surrounded by people that fear, respect and care about her.

Evelyn’s overworked and underpaid employee, Bob Cratchit (played by Jaron Boggs) and his wife Anne (played by Hannah Rockel) are expecting the birth of their child any day as the uneasiness of their poverty sets in and the fate of their child is in question, they wonder how they will get by.

As Christmas eve progresses into Christmas day, Evelyn is visited by the three familiar ghosts who take her on a tour of her life. Beginning with a warning from her long dead partner and mentor, Janet Marley (played by Rochelle Flynn) who makes it very clear that the path Evelyn is currently on is only going to lead to more pain, suffering and sadness and it is up to Evelyn to changer her ways.

This is a great show from beginning to end (directed by Calen Winn) with a talented cast and piano driven narrative (music direction and live piano playing by Elizabeth Bender) in the style of old school ragtime. Song and dance routines help move the story along (choreography by Gayle Staker), and the set brings early 1900's New York to life (set by Albie Clementi). Lighting helps set the tone and feel of each scene (lights by Rob Falk) and sound is superb (sound by Eric Dickman).

While this is a story I’ve revisited  at least once a year for as long as I can remember, I did find it refreshing to have a female version of Scrooge that is in most aspects, more believable than the original character. She is portrayed as someone who has something to prove to a chauvinistic 1900's America, where women aren't typically found in business.

All in all, I highly recommend keeping up our holiday traditions by doing something slightly non-traditional. Norman Allen’s vision of A Christmas Carol offers a slightly different perspective of the classic but cautionary tail of getting too wrapped up in ones own ambitions and the tear littered paths we leave behind when we care for nothing but profits.

The Christmas Carol Rag is playing at the Burien Actors Theatre, 14501 4th Ave. S.W. in Burien from November 24th til December 17th. Show times begin at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $10 for students, $17 for seniors and $20 for everyone else. More information can be found at burienactorstheatre.org.

The Burien Actors Theatre is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity who has been keeping up the tradition of providing the live theater to the Burien area since 1955.

Photos by Michael Brunk.

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