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KC Rep defrosts Ebenezer Scrooge's heart with dazzling production

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A Christmas Carol`

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Forget about waiting up late to see the Charles Dickens holiday classic, A Christmas Carol with all its remakes, updates and all that; instead, go see the stunning live performance of A Christmas Carol, now through Dec. 26 at the KC Rep on the UMKC campus.

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KC Rep’s version delves deep into the holiday classic with a superb cast of outstanding actors, marvelous sets, detailed period costumes, and special effects to excite audiences. The lavish production displays why it has become a Kansas City tradition and a guaranteed winner for KC Rep.

As expected, the KC Rep produces quality shows and relies mostly on local talent, of which Kansas City overflows. Every actor from the largest role to small walk-on parts shows the talent of the hometown. KC Rep shines in presenting sophisticated actors at the top of their craft. Care and attention to details make KC Rep offerings a great evening of entertainment. A Christmas Carol continues that proud tradition.

No one tires of the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his miserly heart. And with one of Kansas City’s finest actors, Gary Neal Johnson, playing Scrooge for the 12th consecutive year, he continues to find nuances for the character of Ebenezer, the curmudgeon of the story. Johnson’s Scrooge allows the audience to laugh at his spendthrift ways; understand his sad, troubled past; and cry when the Christmas spirit thaws his bitterly frozen heart. Johnson takes Ebenezer to new highs as the show develops.

Give a standing ovation to Kyle Hatley, director, for bringing this cast together and envisioning his concept for the show. The production team, together with Hatley, produced a fantastic set that revolves from scene to scene as the action keeps moving. The set is compact, workable, and the detail-minded. The production moves effortlessly from one change to another and characters move easily in and out. A Christmas Carol sets a standard for stage management and use.

Hatley’s eyes for detail make the show even more enjoyable with subtle additions that give a rich texture to the show without distracting from the central plot. In the first scene with Ebenezer and Bob Cratchit in the office, a steady stream of passersby can be seen as they walk along the London streets. What a great detail that would be forgotten and overlooked in so many other visions of the show. The audience feels like they are inside the office looking out to the street.

As the narrator, Charles Dickens, Charles Fugate performs admirably. His delivery goes from direct, to eerie, to tongue-in-cheek as he drifts in and out of the scenes he introduces. Fugate navigates the peace with ease and wears the period costumes as well as he wears the character of Dickens. Fugate moves throughout the lower audience and brings them into the production. His beautiful baritone voice blends well in the few musical pieces of the show.

Another male lead in the show, Bob Cratchit, comes to life with a very kind and winning performance by Walter Coppage. Coppage, as Cratchit, always displays a smile and warmth–even against the cold, bitterness of Scrooge. Coppage’s Cratchit is not the downtrodden character and whipping boy as shown in movies, but more of a tolerant, understanding, warm, benevolent Cratchit. Coppage brings a welcome change from the expected.

In a dual role, Rusty Sneary performs as both the young Ebenezer and as Ebenezer’s nephew Fred. Sneary creates each character with style and grace and his ability to show the sadness and pain of young Ebenezer and the outgoing exuberance of Fred are extreme opposites. Sneary delineates each character with his own masterful touches.

A Christmas Carol focuses on male characters, like so many Dickens novels. In the KC Rep version of A Christmas Carol expect to see great acting (even in small roles) from Vanessa Severo and Katie Kalahurka. Severo portrays two characters with different personalities while Kalahorka shines as the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Fog, a ginormous Ghost of Christmas Present, a trap door, and other effects bring the story to life and amazement of audience members. The show takes on an interactive element with the larger-than-life spirit walking amongst the audience, talking, greeting, and interacting with them. The movement puts the audience inside the show. By using all the aisles for entrances and exits, the audiences find more ways to be drawn into the play.

A Christmas Carol cast: Logan Black, Martin Buchanan, Cam Burns, Walter Coppage, Jacob Aaron Cullum, Peggy Friesen, Charles Fugate, Jim Gall, Liz Golson, Colleen Grate, Katie Hall, Megan Herrera, Darcie Hingula, Jessica Jensen, Gary Neal Johnson, Katie Kalahurka, Matthew McAndrews, Dawnnie Mercado, Daniel Owens, Matthew Rappport, Mark Robbins, Vanessa Severo, Rusty Sneary, Spencer Steer, Andrew Stout, Bradley J. Thomas, Devyn Trondson, Mia Vaught, Margaret Veglahn, Megan Wagner, Cheryl Weaver, Ashley Yvonne Wheat. Young adult ensemble: Audrey Ahlenius, Bella Barnes, Mosha Clyma, Georgia Dubois, Christian Gell, Preston Hereford, Erin Lowe, Cori Moffett, Sean Moise, Elena Nanneman, Ezie Nguyen, Colton Richards, Austin Zollars. Children’s ensemble: Allison Banks, Marek Burns, Janie Carr, Dylan Cooper, Francis Cooper, Lauren Daugherty, Brett Gieras, Addison Landes, Josephine Lenati, Ember Lewis, Julia Masterson, Khalil Odums, Faith O’Neal, Olivia Shackelford, Drake Taylor, Catie Wolff.

The creative team led by Kyle Hatley, director includes: Anthony E. Edwards, John Ewell, Lauren Roark, Jeffrey Cady, John Story, Gene Emerson Friedman, Jennifer Martin, Erika Bailey and Brooke Redler.

KC Rep’s A Christmas Carol continues to entertain packed auditoriums. The current version runs through Dec. 26 and should not be missed. Grab the family. Everyone will enjoy the story, even if they know it by heart. The heartwarming tale of the Christmas spirit in victory over Ebenezer’s stingy heart delights everyone. Get the kids, get the parents, get the grandparents, aunts, uncles–everyone and go see this production. Everyone will be on their feet to cheer the cast and crew.

Tickets, dates, times, groups sales and more information is available through the website: kcrep.org.

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