Must-See Rhode Island: Trinity Rep’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Since 1976, Trinity Repertory Company has brought Charles Dickens’ timeless A Christmas Carol to Rhode Island and Massachusetts theater goers. It’s a staple of every holiday season, a tradition that resonates deeply with the states’ residents. Many grew up with this tradition and it’s amazing to see them bringing their own children, decades later, to share in the experience.

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It’s no wonder that Trinity Rep’s Associate Artistic Director, Tyler Dobrowsky, understands A Christmas Carol so perfectly:

”¦ the themes and ideas are as universal and profound as any found in theater. It does what any great work of art should do – it entertains, while asking us to examine how we live, and to determine what is ultimately important in our lives. Dickens suggests that accumulating the most wealth or spending the most time in the office will not bring happiness. What will? Family and friends. Kindness and charity. Love. Ideas so simple they’re easy to forget. A Christmas Carol serves as a reminder.

Each year brings a new twist on the classic production. With unique costumes, a fresh set, music and style – you’re guaranteed never to see the same show twice. Even the location changes. Trinity Rep has set the story in London, but also in New York and even Providence itself (RI-ers will recall the local nod to the Big Blue Bug and even Del’s Lemonade!).

A Christmas Carol in 2010

This year’s fantastic performance was no exception. Set designer, Eugene Lee, has worked on some of the biggest productions in the business, including Saturday Night Live, on Broadway, and on the musical Wicked. This year’s gorgeously designed set reflects his vision: a carefully crafted brick backdrop peppered with multi-colored vintage doors, classic gas-light lanterns, and perfectly swept piles of snow. Every detail works to instantly transport the audience to mid-nineteenth century London.

Mauro Hantman is perfectly cast as Ebenezer Scrooge. He deftly evolves from curmudgeonly old miser one can’t help but loathe, to pitiable old man who slowly begins to understand the error of his ways. By Act Three, he’s jumping playfully and unabashedly around his bedroom, overjoyed at the mere thought of a hot cup of tea and the feel of his socks on his feet.

One twist on Dickens’ classic is the part of the Ghost of Christmas Present, played by not one but two actors (Jude Sandy and Joe Wilson, Jr.). whose timing and stage confidence is impeccable. Their performance was at once charming, funny and extremely well done.

A rotating band of children (aptly dubbed Red Team and Green Team) provides a heartwarming casting touch – the perfect antithesis to Scrooge’s Humbug!. Tiny Tim (played by Jonah King and Peter Medici) is an adorable, charming, young boy one can’t help but love.

This year’s production was without intermission. And we honestly didn’t miss it. It’s all so well done, you’ll wonder how ninety minutes went by in the blink of an eye. And you just might be left wanting more.

Tickets & Availability

Trinity Rep, like many theaters, is small and intimate with very limited seating. A quick check of ticket availability the week after Thanksgiving revealed only four tickets – all singles, all at different showings – remained for the entire season. All of this is to say: mark your calendar for mid-November and reserve your tickets early.

Note: many downtown Providence restaurants offer dining specials to Trinity Rep theater-goers. For a romantic, fine dining experience, I recommend Bravo Brasserie, located immediately across the street from the theater. For a low-key, budget-friendly option, check out Trinity Brewhouse. Both are ideally located and offer fantastic menu selections.

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