The 40th performance of Ira David Wood III’s “A Christmas Carol” opened Wednesday, December 10, at the Duke Energy Center for Performing Arts in Downtown Raleigh.
Wood is the founder and Executive Director of Theatre in the Park, a thespian organization centered around Pullen Park on NC State’s campus. He takes on the role of Scrooge, as he has for the past 39 years the play has been performed.
This particular adaptation of Charles Dickens’ famous novel is not a simple text-to-stage translation of events. Wood describes his play as primarily being a comedy. Not only is the play written humorously, it’s revised and changed every year. Topical comedy that would have made no sense to an audience from 2012 is abundant throughout. At times this can fall flat (as when Scrooge suggests he and Jacob Marley go watch Sons of Anarchy on TV rather than meet the Ghost of Christmas past) but, the majority of the time, it’s done with exceptional timing and makes hilarious references to current events.
Both Wood III (playing Scrooge), Ira David Wood IV (who takes on the role of narrator, posing as a simple lamplighter whenever anyone else is onstage) and David Henderson (playing Jacob Marley) deliver excellent performances full of energy and charm. None of the actor’s performances are notably weak, even considering the number of young children casted.
Not only is the play a comedy, it is also a musical. The singing is top-notch. and the music is written well, but the final act is a bit oversaturated with holiday tunes. So, we miss a lot of valuable character interaction in exchange for four songs occurring very close together.
In summary, the play is excellent. The humor, writing and divine performances of the main cast inject life into American theatre, and the production deserves the many accolades it has acquired over the years. The performance will run until December 21.