Playing thru December 24, 2011

OREM — Each year, the Hale Center Theater produces the community favorite A Christmas Carol. The show is based on the Dickens novel of the same name, but the Hale production has added a few musical numbers written by Cody Hale.

The story is no doubt a familiar one: the bitter miser Ebenezer Scrooge has no compassion for others and no Christmas spirit. Scrooge imposes his unhappiness on all those around him and keeps his lone employee, Bob Cratchit, at measly wages. On Christmas Eve, three spirits visit Scrooge to help him realize that there are things much more important and meaningful than money.

The show’s acting overall was fine; the Hale rarely lets me down with their actors. However, I felt for those actors having to work with such a stale script. They did the best with what they had and I commend them.

Scrooge, played by Chris H. Brower, had a wonderful energy and charisma throughout the entire show. His performance showed a wide range and a definite change in character from the beginning of the show to the end. Bob Cratchit (Marshall Lamm) played a heartwarming do-gooder. The boys of the show, Tiny Tim (Kaden Patterson) and The Ghost of Christmas Past (Austin Bigelow), successfully brought smiles to our faces with their innocent wisdom. The show’s carolers (Melissa McCarty, Lauren Hughes, Liz Graden, Christine Pond, Alan Graden, Andrew Hill, Howard Fullmer, and Jim Murphy), while sometimes crowding the stage a little too much, added a subtle feeling of calm and control to the energetic production–not to mention they sounded great.

The sound design was by far the most distracting element in the production. At times I didn’t understand what a sound was or where it was coming from, and therefore a few scenes left me puzzled. Yes, we can all assume that most audience members already know the story of A Christmas Carol, but that’s no excuse for shoddy production elements. When the sound wasn’t confusing, it was probably too loud.

Scene changes also brought me out of the show. The Hale usually has such inventive and plot-driving scene changes; in the case of Christmas Carol the scene changes were more like hiccups, interrupting the show’s flow. Luckily, the rest of the show’s design brought the well-known Christmas Carol to life. The costumes (designed by Maryann Hill) and scenic design (by Bobby Swenson and Nate Hale), while typical, fit nicely together and with the story.

The show’s end was charming, and everyone surely left feeling ready for a Christmas full of family  time and giving. So should you grab your tickets to this production of Christmas Carol? If you’re a once-a-year theater goer, then by all means enjoy this heartwarming Christmas tale. If you love the usual high quality, innovation, and professionalism of the Hale Center Theater, I’d skip this production.

A Christmas Carol plays thru December 24 at the Hale Center Theater located at 225 West 400 North in Orem. Tickets are $18-$20. For more information, visit or call 801-226-8600.

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