Sad CHRISTMAS CAROL Marks End of Era

by Kevin Korowicki

If you have not heard by now, the Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, PA, “the official State Theatre of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania” under the direction of Ralph Miller for over 30 years, will come to a close.  The troubled, historical theatre is finishing its last show, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, before its financial demise.  It is sad.  Terribly sad.  And it showed on the Opening Night of the Dickens classic tale of a miserable old man who is more concerned with money than helping his fellow man.  How ironic, huh?  The cast, you could tell, was deeply affected.  The tale which eventually gives you hope seemed hopeless.  The smiles were more faked than acted and it was a melancholy performance.  Bob Marcus as Scrooge seemed angry the entire time and even at the transformation end, was still not the “happy Scrooge”.  Chris Baron gave a reserved performance as Bob Cratchit; you could tell he just wasn’t there in spirit.  Catherine Logan did an emotional job as Mrs. Crachit, probably the best overall performance of the night.  The narrator, Paul Gibbons, was totally miscast as Dickens and was painful to listen to with no attempt at an English accent.  The ghost of Christmas Future was done in the most unusual way I have ever seen yet; Nicole Calabrese was dressed in black, didn’t say a word, but did a ballet dance on her tip toes during the grave yard scenes.  The Crachit children, played by Taylor Marschean, Stephen Giordano, Hannah Jackson, Brandon Fean, Sydney Raslowsky and Tyler Hentz were cute and made you long for your Christmas’ of the past.  Lauren Renahan, who played several roles, including the ghost of Christmas Past, needs to be given an actor’s credit for diversity. 

Catherine Maeve Logan as Mrs. Cratchit, Christopher Baron as Bob Cratchit and Bob Marcus as Scrooge star in Bucks County Playhouse production of the Dickens classic, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, running in New Hope, PA through December 23.

The best part of the show was the musical numbers, mainly Christmas carols, which were intermixed prior, during and at the conclusion of the show.  Several times, the BCP Children’s chorus sang and filled the Mill with their sweet voices.  The best carol was four of the adult characters singing a four part “Little Drummer Boy”.  The costumes were period pieces and the show looked nice, but the atmosphere was filled with an overall gloom.  I wish I could spin this another way, but I can’t.  I am sure if the cast of A CHRISTMAS CAROL had a future to look forward to, this Dickens classic would have been a better experience for all.  Instead, unfortunately, it’s all about Money.  Granted, Miller is in debt over $2 million and maybe some new group needs to take over.  There are rumors about what will happen now that the property goes to Auction (goes as I am writing this…)  The town of New Hope would love to see this iconic theatre continue.  It would be great for all to bring it back to the days when it was a pre-Broadway testing grounds; when New York stars would come here first to test out new works.  Those days are gone.  Let’s hope the theatre, however, will not be and it will find a new life somehow.  Pray the curtain hasn’t fallen for the last time in New Hope. 

by Charles Dickens
December 9 – 23, 2010
Bucks County Playhouse
70 S. Main Street
New Hope, PA

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Michele December 14, 2010 - 9:08 am

So well written and well said!

Angie December 19, 2010 - 11:00 am

did you actually see the show?

Orla December 15, 2010 - 5:06 am

And yet another negative review from the picky Korowicki! While I have not seen the show at Bucks County Playhouse, I have to wonder if Korowicki is perhaps projecting emotions onto the players. Additionally, I thought the review to be in bad taste, considering this is the last show being done at this historic theater. In fact, it called to mind Ebenezer Scrooge himself- pre-change. But Scrooge at least wouldn’t have tried to sugar-coat it with flowery, maudlin pity speak.

Joanie December 17, 2010 - 7:16 am

I have seen “A Christmas Carol” at the Bucks County Playhouse and am glad I didn’t read the review first or I might not have attended. Perhaps Mr. Korowicki was reading into the mood on the stage due to the financial woes going on, but the show I saw was enjoyable and very well done. The show is a dark one, historically, and to have the beautiful singing, dancing and the costumes flitting in and out really lifted the show. I am hoping that someone will pick up this theater and allow these wonderful performers to continue to practice their craft there in the future. New Hope needs their theater. It is one of the big draws to this little town.

Amy December 28, 2010 - 8:35 am

I don’t think it’s fair to blame Mr. Korowicki for his opinion. I was not able to see A Christmas Carol at the Playhouse but judging from the last few shows I have seen there, he may have been entirely on his mark. The shows I’ve seen recently there have had wonderful music, great dancing and beautiful costumes but have definitely lacked in the acting department. Not that the acting was bad per say, but it did not feel natural the way a great performance should. This was not a completely negative review and Mr. Korowicki had plenty of nice things to say. Why should he have to fake his opinion just because it is the last show at the Playhouse?


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