“This is the perfect way to ring in the holidays in Austin.”
The 2017 Christmas season at ZACH Theatre in Austin invites theatergoers to enjoy a holiday classic with a twist. A Christmas Carol: A Rockin’ Family Musical is the latest production under the masterful eye of Artistic Director Dave Steakley, running through December 31 at the Topfer Theatre.
Based on the Dickens tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation from heartlessness during the holidays to a charitable, loving man after being visited by ghosts who show him what his life may end up like, ZACH transforms the tale with modern music and dance numbers.
I thought the show was off to a fun start with some Motown music, but the show—directed by Bryan Bradford and choreographed by Christa Oliver—took a decided upward turn for me when Jacob Marley’s ghost first appears to Scrooge to tell him about the ghosts coming to see him.
Roderick Sanford—who plays Jacob Marley, Mr. Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Future— has a commanding stage presence. When Marley’s ghost drags his chains across the stage while singing a slow rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” to show Scrooge how selfish he has been, the show turned into a haunting retelling.
When the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Christmas Present come in, the music goes from dark to fun and exhilarating, with flamboyant ghosts portrayed by Kenny Williams and Chanel. They treat Scrooge with a soft hand and dance him through his past and current life to see what life choices led to his solitude and bitterness.
The Cratchit family and the church services attended by the ensemble resonate with the meaning of Christmas: family and friends, giving, and remembering to be thankful for all the things you’ve been given in life. One twist Artistic Director Steakley made with the Cratchit family that really spoke to me was to make them adoptive parents of all their children, rather than just having a large loving family.
Steakley said “I have several friends who have committed themselves as foster parents or have adopted children…In honor of these families, and in homage to the Dickens family, I made the Cratchits an adoptive family, welcoming any child who needs a loving home. In this home, human kindness is overflowing.”
Children will enjoy the songs and the lights as well as the dancing and interaction the cast works in with the audience. Adults will appreciate the retelling with songs that pull at their heartstrings. I would happily go see this several times as I think there are new things to notice in the show every time.
There were several times in the show I saw people wiping tears away and even more times that the entire theater laughed and danced. While the night I saw this it was about 75 degrees when we got out of the theater, it left me feeling more into the Christmas spirit. Whether you are taking children or having an adult night out, this is the perfect way to ring in the holidays in Austin.
Click here for A Christmas Carol times and ticket information
Age recommendation 6 and up
Cover photo (L to R) Front: Roderick Sanford and Michelle Alexander Back: Cast in A Christmas Carol at ZACH Theatre. Photo by Kirk Tuck