BRLT brings back holiday classic ‘Carol’

Like old car batteries, people’s Christmas spirits sometimes need a boost. Baton Rouge Little Theater offers jumper cables through this weekend.

“A Christmas Carol,” perhaps the most beloved story of the season that doesn’t include a manger scene, is back on BRLT’s main stage. After several years of trying out other Christmas productions, last year the theater went with this Charles Dickens classic. It was so well-performed and, apparently, well-received that BRLT has decided to make it a local Christmas tradition.

Keith Dixon directs largely the same cast this time as the first, and it delivers the same satisfying result.

Veteran actor Mike Katchmer remains an outstanding Ebenezer Scrooge, the tight-fisted businessman whose love of money above all else has turned him mean and hard to all that makes life worth living. Experiencing this attitude most directly are his nephew, Fred (Travis H. Williams), and his poorly paid employee, Bob Cratchit (Davis Hotard). As the Christmas Eve workday ends, Scrooge greatly resents even giving Cratchit his only paid holiday on Christmas Day, much less the seasonal merry-making and appeals to help the poor.

The story, of course, takes a dramatic turn that night when the ghost of Scrooge’s deceased partner, Jacob Marley (Ronnie Stutes) shows up in Scrooge’s bedroom to warn him that three spirits will visit that night, giving Scrooge a chance to mend his ways.

The Ghost of Christmas Past (Lily McGill) shows how Scrooge became a miserable miser, having a chance at love with Belle (Michele Taylor), the beautiful niece of his employer, Mr. Fezziwig (Lee Allen). Taylor, Allen and Kelly Martin (as Mrs. Fezziwig) shine during this exploration of Scrooge’s background.

Kurt Hauschild is outstanding as the Ghost of Christmas Present — a hail fellow whose abundant good cheer stands in stark contrast with his dour pupil. He shows Scrooge how his skinflint ways affect the Cratchit family, about whom Scrooge seems to know nothing, even of the youngest child, Tiny Tim (Virginia Moore), who seems doomed to die in childhood from health problems. Theater-goers who do not read the playbill closely will not notice that Tiny Tim and the Boy Caroler (Caroline Feduccia) are played by girls.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Anthony Pierre) silently shows Scrooge his fate should he not change his ways.

The production is lushly costumed (designed by Crystal Brown), and the elaborate sets (designed by Chris Adams and Kenneth Mayfield) flow seamlessly from Scrooge’s room, to the inside and outside of his office, to the outside of his home, to the Cratchit household and other key sites. It all comes together in a little under two hours, with a 15-minute intermission, and is a delight.

If anyone who tells you different, say, “Humbug!”