Northampton Press

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Theater Review: 'Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge' verdict: funny

Wednesday, December 11, 2013 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

The rule of law prevails in "The Trail Of Ebenezer Scrooge," through Dec. 15, Main Stage, Labuda Center for the Performing Arts, DeSales University, Center Valley.

DeSales' Act 1 Performing Arts mounts an impressive, satisfying and entertaining production of the clever play by Mark Brown ("Around the World in 80 Days").The show was reviewed opening night, Dec. 4.

The premise is that old Scrooge sues his tormenters from Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," charging them with a list of alleged offenses (including attempted murder, kidnapping, slander, and pain and suffering) longer than Santa's naughty list.

Director Steven Dennis, Associate Professor, DeSales, and Artistic Associate, Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival, has a lot of fun with the two-hour, two-act comedy's highly-original story, said to take place one-year after Scrooge's transformation from misanthrope to philanthropist.

Faster than you can say "change of heart," Scrooge is up to his old tricks, heralded by that dyspeptic screed, "Bah, Humbug!" Scrooge has lost the Christmas spirit.

The handsome courtroom, with coal stove, gas lights and snow on the window panes, by Scenic Designer Will Neuert, DeSales Resident Scenic Designer, rivals those in the Old Lehigh County Courthouse (1814-1881), Allentown.

Neuert's skill is evident in several spectacular stage entrances by the Ghosts of Christmases as they are called to testify, as is that of Lighting and Sound Designer Elizabeth Elliott, DeSales resident lighting and sound designer, who provides the surprises. This is stagecraft of the highest order.

The costumes by Costume Designer Amy Best, DeSales Resident Costume Designer, are simply wonderful.

"The Trail of Ebenezer Scrooge" is a courtroom drama, not in the sense of, for example, "12 Angry Men," but in a Marx Brothers' style spoof of a classic. The script is replete with asides, "Christmas Carol" send-ups ("Mr. Marley is dead. To begin with.") and sight gags.

Here's a sample of the play's tone.

"He's representing himself," it's said of Scrooge.

"Why?" it's asked.

"Because he's Scrooge," is the exasperated reply.

Peter Danelski is a convincing Scrooge, hunched over, "balding" and with an intentional emotional range from grimace to scowl.

The game of "Yes and No" between Scrooge and Fred Fitzpatrick (Mike Franz) provides some of the play's funniest moments.

Hal Miers is hilariously intense as Solomon Rothschild, the defense attorney.

Jonathan Wallace is an expansive Bob Cratchit. Samantha Noll is a dedicated Mrs. Cratchit. Witnesses include Caitlin Daily as Sara Wainwright.

Brett Lawlor is a scary Marley. Mark Marano is an appropriately pompous Judge Pearson. Matt Enters is a comic sidekick as the Bailiff.

Meghan Shea is luminous as the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Dane Lavery manages a "tall order" in conveying the menace (and humor) of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come.

Marguerite Halcovage is memorable as the Translator.

Autumn Lee Fink is a scene-stealer in the best tradition as a wise-cracking Mrs. Dilber.

If you're a fan of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," you may want to judge for yourself "The Trial Of Ebenezer Scrooge."