Scrooge 29: Hale Center Theater Orem Local Production

chris brower

Tonight’s review is  a little different.  I want to profile not a movie but my local theaters production of Christmas Carol.  In Utah and Arizona there are 3 independently owned theaters under the Hale name- Hale Center Theater Orem and Hale Center Theater West Valley are close to me.   They are special theaters with Broadway level productions at reasonable costs and they are both theater in the round. This is such a great way to see a play because wherever you sit you have a good view.

hale oremThey have made it a tradition of putting on Christmas Carol every year and I alternate between Orem and West Valley because they are both fantastic.  Here’s a little video clip explaining the tradition of Christmas Carol at Hale:

At Hale Orem the man playing Scrooge, Chris Brower,  has been doing every performance for 20 years and naturally he has it down to an art.  It is better than any of the film versions but is probably most like the George C. Scott with his Scrooge having a sarcastic twinkle.

Hale-Orem-Christmas-Carol-Featured-Image brower oremIt’s a pretty amazing sacrifice that he gives the community every year because they have 2 to 3 performances every day and he is in all of them. He is funny and endearing and harsh.  A great Scrooge.

The Bob Cratchit this year played by musical director Cam Cahoon was great with a terrific singing voice.  They always get the cutest Tim for these performances too. 
There are carolers that narrate throughout the show with Victorian carols like God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, First Noel, What Child is This and Coventry Carol.  They are excellent singers and the Coventry Carol before the grieving Cratchit’s are seen is particularly moving along with Bob Cratchit’s What Child is This to Tim’s grave

hale theaterThe Marley, played by Scott Healey has been in the cast the last few years I’ve seen it and he is very good.  Here’s a little clip that might give you a feel for the production.

marley and scroogeThis version is adapted by Hale family member Cody Hale and it is a solid adaptation although the original songs (only 3 of them) I could do without.  Something about original songs and Christmas Carol I’m not that into. That said, I’ve certainly heard worse songs this month!

The carols help to highlight the religious elements of the story,  which I always appreciate and find most moving.  In the end, it is the story of redemption, overcoming fear and isolation and the power of Atonement in our lives and communities.  I never seem to tire of it even after 30 versions in a month.

As much as I love movies there is something special about live theater that I will always love.  There’s a rawness to live performance that excites and thrills me whether it is a concert, play, or musical I just love it! I’m so grateful to live in Utah where Hale theaters are one of many quality ways to experience the arts at good prices and with family friendly values.

I would challenge all of you to seek out the arts in your area and support them as much as you can.  It’s an important part of our community and makes our cities and towns nicer places to live.   Hurray for the arts!!!

(And if you are in Utah there is still time to see the show at either Hale theater!)

This is some fan reaction to Hale Theater Arizona version but the feedback would be similar in Orem.

Scrooge Month Introduction!

scroogesI am excited to announce to all of you my next project.  Consider it my Christmas gift to all of you wonderful readers.  I have always loved Charles Dicken’s Christmas Carol.  I see it at our local theater, Hale Center Theater Orem, every year and watch as many film versions as I can.  This year I figured let’s hunt down some more unusual one’s, as well as the favorites and blog about it.  This should cover everything from silent movies to animation to Muppets.  I’m really excited!!

I won’t go through the basic plot for each review because they are all basically the same, but I will note different choices in each version, talk about the leads and each strength and weakness.

scrooge_2091779b

If you live under a rock and don’t know the story of A Christmas Carol it is about a Victorian banker named Ebeneezer Scrooge who has allowed his heart to grow hard over a fear of poverty.  Dickens father was sent to debtor’s prison and it was a great fear of his and all of the Victorian era.  You can get a real sense of this gloom in his novel Little Dorrit (if you like Christmas Carol I highly recommend reading it).  Scrooge has allowed himself to turn fear into coldness towards his fellow humans.  This is demonstrated through his hatred and disgust of Christmas.  He has a beleaguered clerk Bob Cratchit who remains positive despite everything.  Bob has a son named Tiny Tim who is on crutches and in failing health.

Scrooge also has a nephew of a sister who died in childbirth.  Seeing his cheerful nephew is painful for Scrooge because of his sister’s memory.  It is another event that has made him bitter and cold.  One Christmas Eve Scrooge gets a visit from his departed partner Jacob Marley.  Jacob was selfish and cold like Scrooge but he feels sorry for his friend and arranges a way for him to be rescued from purgatory.  Scrooge will have to be visited by 3 spirits- the ghost of Christmas past, present and future.

Through seeing his past and what made him bitter, the present and what he should be grateful for, and the future that is to be dreaded, Scrooge is humbled and decides to change and embrace Christmas and joy in life.

scrooge and marley

Honestly I’ve yet to see a version of this story that I haven’t liked on some level.  It just moves me (yes even Smurfs and Tori Spelling…).  I love the story because it is about seemingly lost causes and the fact there aren’t any. Everyone has potential for redemption and hope.

I personally see that redemption through Jesus and His great gift at Christmas but even if you are not Christian the message of hope in Christmas Carol is something to share and never forget.

So consider this my gift to all of you and my attempt to spread some hope during the holidays!

Bah Humbug!! 🙂

I am not sure what order I am going to do the posts or how I will group them but here are the films I plan on taking a look at over the next month. It will probably depend on how soon I am able to get a hold of different versions.

I’d love to hear your favorites!

christmas carol