The simple joy of A Christmas Carol comes to life at Steel City Shakespeare

Steel City Shakespeare Center opened their holiday offering, Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol with the first of four presentations, this at the Trinity Lutheran Church on the Northside. I’m going to make the assumption here that everyone reading this post knows the Story of A Christmas Carol ; Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, the three Christmas Ghosts and Tiny Tim. There are plays, musicals, movies and even cartoons based on this, perhaps Dicken’s most famous stories. There are also cartoon versions starring Mr. Magoo and Disney’s famous Scrooge McDuck.

The Steel City Shakespeare Center adaptation by Jessica SchiermeisterJeffery Chips, and Michael Mykita deconstructs A Christmas Carol down to the basic story and stages it as what can be best described as an audiobook with multiple voices and visuals. Sebastian Midence plays Scrooge with Derrick Shane as Bob Cratchit, with Ashley Nemit, Erin McAuley, Rachelmae Pulliam, and Shane covering the other roles. In addition to performing their respective roles, each actor covers narration and sets the various scenes. The actors have scarves, hats, coats, and aprons to add flavor to their character and a minimalistic compliment of props. Five actors simply tell us the story of A Christmas Carol as they step in and out of different characters. The production is storytelling at it’s simple basic best.

Astute readers may be saying at this point “Wait, isn’t this just a staged reading?” Yes, but this production so much more than that. Scripts are in hand, but most often left on a chair as the actors perform their roles, acting not just reading. Our minds are free to fill in the details such as the scenery and locales. (Your accumulated memory of past productions of A Christmas Carol really helps with the visualization process.)

Director Jessica Schiermeister has assembled an incredibly talented cast, who reportedly never performed together previously. Their transitions between characters are accomplished smoothly and almost unnoticed. With one exception, the actors are “on stage” the entire hour and fifteen minutes. This performance was attended by adults and children. For other than the youngest ones, the show held the children’s attention, no small feat in this day of digital devices.

Take a break from the commercialism of the holiday season and reflect on the benefits of kindness with Steel City Shakespeare Center’s compelling and engaging A Christmas Carol.

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by Steel City Shakespeare Center has performances on Sunday, December 9, 4:00 pm at Riverstone Books – McCandless Crossing, 8850 Covenant Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15237. Additional performances are Saturday, December 15th, 7:00 pm and Sunday, December 16, 2:00 pm at Heathside Cottage, 416 Catoma St., Pittsburgh, PA 15212 Suggested donation: $15. To reserve tickets email ticketing.steelcityshakespeare@gmail.com

George Hoover got his start in theatre in Miami when his family ran the Coconut Grove Playhouse. His career encompasses a variety of work in both the design and technical side of motion pictures, live theatre, and television. George is a three-time Emmy Award winner, member of the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame, Broadcasting & Cable Technology Leadership Award winner, Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers Life Fellow, and most importantly a passionate theatre person and generally handy guy.

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