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Published on December 13th, 2012 | by RLn Staff

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Dickens Comes to Torrance

By John Farrell, Contributing Writer

You can’t avoid Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol at this time of year any more than you can avoid hearing Burl Ives singing A Holly Jolly Christmas.

And unless you are the Grinch (or a theater reviewer who has to see several versions every year) the Dickens story is a reminder of what Christmas is all about.

The Torrance Theater Company has mounted their own production, an adaptation by Christopher Schario directed by Margaret Schugt that is better than many, and even without all the bells, whistles, smoke and mirrors. With a cast of just six versatile actors playing many roles it manages to catch the heart and the Christmas spirit (or is it spirits? There are three Ghosts, after all) in a way many other productions can’t.

Set on a stage that proves itself very adaptable, with a few platforms, moving staircases and a desk that turns into a bed, with David McGee as Scrooge (he was Tevye in Torrance’s Fiddler on the Roof a few months ago) the play tells, in Dickens’ words, the archetypal story, from Tiny Tim to ghosts to the final, redemptive scene.

If you don’t know the story, you need to see this production to learn it. But for most people the tale is a part of their lives and the slight sets are just enough to set up the classic scenes they remember from countless movies, plays, even TV’s Mr. Magoo.

It’s a very clever minimalist production that emphasizes the words and the spirit of the story over fancy production values. You’ll enjoy the actors and the way they continually transform the theater’s stage to make Scrooge’s office and then turn his desk into a bed, how quickly they change costumes — and how directly — using Dickens’ own words, they tell the story.

Chris Mock is Scrooge’s clerk Bob Cratchit, and several other persons, and he does them all well. Joshua Aguilar is Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. Tanner Aldrich is Tiny Tim and he tells his part of the story in plain, clear English. Jennifer Faneuff has several roles she handles well. Special notice must be given to Kristina Teves. She doubles in several roles, and is emotionally superb as Scrooge’s one love: her face is a wonder of emotion.

The play is in two short acts. The Torrance Theater is very audience friendly. There are no bad seats and plenty of action as the play progresses through a story everyone knows, but the delights of watching the players change scenes and characters in front of your face makes this version special.

Tickets are $25. Performances are at 8 p.m. Dec. 14, 15, 21 and 22, and at 2 p.m. Dec. 16 at the Torrance Theater
Details:  (424) 243-6882; www.FriendsofTTC@gmail.com
Venue: Torrance Theater
Location: 1316 Cabrillo Ave., Torrance

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