An Austin Twist on a Christmas Carol, Now at ZACH Theatre

by Britni Rachal on December 6, 2018 in Entertainment, Theatre, Austin,

It’s a rocking, soulful musical that will have even the most skeptical scrooge saying bah-humbug no more. A Christmas Carol at Austin’s ZACH Theatre puts a modern twist on a holiday classic by combining new hit songs with traditional Victorian-setting costumes.

Directed by Abe Reynolds, the festive production takes Dickens’ classic to new heights in a way that only Austin’s ZACH can.

The cast of “A Christmas Carol” at ZACH Theatre puts a modern twist on a holiday classic. Photo Kirk Tuck

If you choose to make the play part of your holiday plans, you’re in for a unique treat with a fun twist on all characters, especially the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, played by actors Kenny Williams (Past), CHANEL (Present) and Jessica O’Brien (Present). Not to mention longtime Austin favorite, Jaston “Greater Tuna” Williams, who plays the ever-so-classically grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge.

Kenny Williams as the Ghost of Christmas Past in “A Christmas Carol” at Austin’s ZACH Theatre.
Photo Kirk Tuck

Simply phenomenal talent with amazing voices and upbeat tunes will be sure to catch your attention. Not to give too many spoilers, but my favorite character, the ghost of Christmas past fills the room with a light-hearted and jolly aura. “You do you boo,” he flamboyantly says to the dour-faced Scrooge.

Roderick Sanford as a spectacular Jacob Marley and Jaston Williams as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol” at ZACH Theatre. Photo Kirk Tuck

Another one of my favorite moments of the play is when the ghost of Scrooge’s old friend, Jacob Marley, appears. Elaborately pieced together, all the costumes in the play have strong attention to detail, but Marley’s costume, hair and makeup take ZACH’s staging to new levels. Dragging heavy chains and decked out in ghoulishly gray makeup with hair strung out everywhere, actor Roderick Sanford, who also plays Fezziwig, the Ghost of Christmas Future and the Reverend, makes his presence known on stage as he belts out Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror,” while warning Scrooge that if he doesn’t change his ways, he too will become as drained, tortured and troubled as Marley.

The cast of “A Christmas Carol” at Austin’s ZACH Theatre, which runs through December 31. Photo Kirk Tuck

Described on the ZACH theatre website as “Motown meets the HoHoHolidays,” this play is good for anyone ages six and up. “I think especially for younger people, the added music and newer elements can help them related more to the story instead of keeping the elements strictly traditional,” said Austin resident, Kris Hunt, who took her 25-year-old daughter to see the play.

Jennifer Blakeney Young and the cast of “A Christmas Carol” at ZACH Theatre, where new hit songs combine with traditional Victorian costumes. Photo Kirk Tuck

Hunt has made it a decades-long tradition to regularly see different versions of A Christmas Carol with her daughter, but ZACH’s version of the play turned musical is unlike any the duo has ever seen. “I really like the end song,” said Hunt of the closing scene where Scrooge rediscovers feelings of kindness and his heart, all to the beat of Andy Grammer’s “Good to be Alive.” “It stuck in my head. I was thinking, ‘I think I finally found a hallelujah as I got into my car.”


A Christmas Carol runs at ZACH through December 31. Tickets start at $30 and can be purchased online.

Cover: CHANEL (Ghost of Christmas Present) and Jaston Williams (Ebenezer Scrooge) in A Christmas Carol at ZACH Theatre.
Photo Kirk Tuck