Wisconsin families, from Hartland and beyond, come flocking each and every year to the hidden holiday gem that is Lake Country Playhouse's A Christmas Carol: The Musical. While the script has remained primarily unchanged during its' 7 years on the small stage, with each new year comes a new vision. This year, directors Bob Hurd, Megan Nolting, and Paul Weir (all of whom tread the boards in 2017) bring a stunning take on the Dickens classic.
The company of A Christmas Carol. All photos by James Baker.
The piece takes the stage in front of three storybooks. As narrations (Goo Gohman-Kramer) lead audiences throughout the town and old Ebenezer's lifetime, the pages peel open effortlessly to reveal intricate illustrations that act as the backdrop for the tale. Joe Ramon's design is both compact - leaving plenty of room onstage for the cast of 41 - and cozy. Then, with black light effects, the paintings come to life and add a touch of magic to Scrooge's journey.
This year's Scrooge himself, played by Marty Graffenius, is subtle. Graffenius's interpretation is perhaps quieter, or more understated, than some popular iterations of the iconic character. However, among the boisterous livelihood of the rest of the season, the stability is much needed. Graffenius holds down the core of the story while the world dances around Scrooge.
Marty Graffenius and Cayla Anderson.
Cayla Anderson's Ghost of Christmas Past is an undeniable highlight. Her presence has an airy, ethereal quality, but in her soprano voice lies a strength that embodies the spirit world from which she comes. Vocally up to par is Courtney Denzer as Belle, Scrooge's ex fiancée. Her tone is much more delicate. It is a stellar reflection of the fragility of young love, and how easily it may be lost.
Terry Haller (Jacob Marley) and Marty Graffenius.
The lighting, by LCP Vice President Breanne Brennan, carries with it all the warmth, frigidity, and mystery that comes neatly wrapped in A Christmas Carol. Audiences are likely to forget that they are seated in Hartland, and instead be drawn straight into mid-1800s London.
As the month of December brings with it a few dozen Christmas shows and performances, it is easy to find yourself searching for something fresh and new. With this directing trio, Lake Country Playhouse's A Christmas Carol provides new insights and excitement to a time-honored tale. Catch it before it closes on December 9th.