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'A Christmas Carol' astounds Kansas City audiences

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"A Christmas Carol" produced by the Kansas City Repertory Theatre

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Undoubtedly, one of the finest productions in the metropolitan area and possibly the Midwest, the Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens and adapted by Barbara Field is playing at the Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus through December 26. Kyle Hatley directs this elaborate and magnificent production of the Christmas classic.

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Through the precise use of special effects, a revolving stage with stunning traditional scenery designed by John Ezell, marvelous costumes depicting the era designed by Lauren Roark, and special projections and lighting by Jeffrey Cady the tale of Ebenezer Scrooge comes to life in the Kansas City Rep 33rd annual presentation.

Charles Dickens, played by Charles Fugate, narrates this tale of the miserly, cold-hearted, and self-absorbed Scrooge. Set in the 19th century, Fugate is superb as he guides the audience along the path that changes the life of Scrooge, ultimately effecting the lives of Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the other characters that appear on stage.

Gary Neal Johnson reprises his stellar role from the 2012 production. Last year’s review described his performance as dynamic as and better than those portrayed by Jim Carrey, George C. Scott, and Michael Caine. This year his performance bettered that of last year. His portrayal is flawless and delivered with heart and conviction that is incomparable to any other performance. His performance has set the bar so high that it may be impossible for any performer, including himself, to exceed.

First visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, played by Katie Kalahurka, Scrooge must endure what he has lived, is living, and what may be to come brought to him by the spirits. Kalahurka is marvelous as the past; her voice with the slight English accent is perfect for the role. It is hard to decide if she is a good spirit or bad as she dances around the stage almost delighting in the heart wrenching emotion thrust onto Scrooge.

Bob Cratchit is the clerk working in the Scrooge and Marley counting house, who must endure the taunts and threats of Scrooge. The magnificent performance by Walter Coppage as Cratchit is what Kansas City has come to expect of such a fine actor.

Whether it is Fugate, Johnson, Kalahurka, Coppage, or one of the numerous other performers on stage everyone excels in their role and gives Kansas City a holiday tradition enjoyable by all.

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