A Christmas Carol Reimagined – Hanover Theatre – December 2020


Prior to my Dickens binging, I had not been very happy with the offerings of online theater. After watching the Hanover Theatre’s “reimagined” production of A Christmas Carol I realized one of the reasons why.

As the introduction to this show, we meet seven of the only eight actors who will be performing the show. They talk about not having been in a theater since March, how comforting it is to see the ghost light on and how different the production will have to be because of COVID restrictions.

The Ghost Light and all the empty seats in the theater

In other words, they acknowledged that things are awful and different and that they just want to make them less awful for a little over an hour. I literally started crying during the introduction. Before they even started putting on the show. Every so often I’m reminded of all that we’ve lost this year, and remembering that my favorite form of escapism – theater – still isn’t there for me is a kick in the teeth.

The ‘reimagined’ part of this production is using only 8 performers, very few props or scenery and obvious social distancing to put on the show. But, really, this is a performance that was quite true to the source material. 

It’s a relatively straight-forward telling of the story. The actors doubling up on parts didn’t change the feel of the show. The only real noticeable difference from the story we all know was the number of Cratchit children. Due to the safety restrictions, Tiny Tim only had one sibling. But that didn’t change how much your heart hurts for the Cratchits when Tiny Tim bites the dust.

The entire socially distanced cast

It’s traditional Christmas fare told by capable and likable actors. Steve Gagliastro is remarkably enjoyable as Scrooge and using the ensemble to narrate the story gave the entire production a satisfying flow. Clocking in at just past an hour long, this reimagined Carol was perfect viewing for a cold December evening. Taavon Gamble as Scrooge’s put-upon clerk Bob Cratchit gave the perfect mix of sad and hopeful, basically mirroring my own emotions during this entire year. His soothing voice was a welcome part of the production.

The entire ensemble was perfectly cast. Talented, pleasant actors who I’d much prefer to be watching in person, but who are good enough that the feel of being in the theater came through for me maybe for the first time since I’ve started watching online theater productions.

This show was also a stark reminder of the times we’re living in. At multiple points in the show it was obvious that something was missing…hugging. There are many times the Cratchits should have hugged. And it was so evident that Mark Linehan, the actor doing yeoman’s work as Fred, Marley and Fezziwig along with his ensemble role, so wanted to hug Scrooge when he was in character as Fred near the end of the show. Painful reminders that these actors put themselves out there to give us some Christmas cheer and they couldn’t even hug each other for their efforts.

As brilliant as the Jefferson Mays version of this story is, as it stands this has been my favorite of all the Carols I’ve seen thus far. Traditional, albeit a bit unique, and leaving me heart full of joy mixed in with a bit of melancholy.

A curtain call with no audience

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