<< Return to Press

BWW-Reviews-Actors-Point-Theatre-Company-Debuts-With-A-CHRISTMAS-CAROL-20010101

With a plethora of Theater Productions of A Christmas Carol filling local stages throughout December, you’d be hard-pressed to not find yourself in the audience of one of those productions. But if you have the presence of mind—and a ticket—you’d search far and wide for a more pleasing rendition of Charles Dickens’ iconic work than the one now onstage at Hendersonville’s Living To Go Church courtesy of the new Actors Point Theatre Company, which is dedicated to bringing professional theater to Sumner County.

Featuring an adaptation by Ronnie Meek, which previously has been performed at  Smyrna’s Lamplighters Theatre, the Actors Point dinner theatre production of A Christmas Carol features some of Middle Tennessee’s most notable actors, including Phil Brady, Zach McCann and JJ Rogers, along with several new-to-me actors all of whom are completely focused in their joyful—and joy-filled—rendering of the tale.

Performed against a backdrop of found objects and collected miscellanea that depict a camp for migrant workers displaced during America’s Dustbowl era, this inventive interpretation of A Christmas Carol is enacted by a traveling band of troubadours who celebrate the holiday season by offering this unqiue artistic gift to their assembled audience. Using traditional carols and music to underscore the play’s action—and utilizing those assembled props onstage in interesting ways to recreate the play’s original English setting among the sepia-toned memories of the equally turbulent and colorful time in America’s economic and social history—the band of players offer a heartfelt rendering of the tale which remains faithful to its source, yet somehow offers a fresh and accessible reiteration of the time-honored tale.

Brady and McCann, last seen onstage together in ACT 1’s searing American Buffalo, are superbly cast as Ebenezer Scrooge and his nephew Fred (although, truth be told, McCann displays his amazing versatility in a variety of roles), playing off one another with ease and capturing a genuine feel of estranged kinfolk in the quintessential dysfunctional family setting. Brady’s haughty Scrooge is believably unctuous without being even slightly over-the-top; instead he creates a very human Scrooge underneath the raiments of forced superiority.

McCann, who could very rightfully lay claim to the title of Nashville’s best actor, so impressive has he been onstage this season (in addition to his stellar turn in American Buffalo, he was excellent in Blackbird Theatre’s Magic earlier this year), again displays exemplary stage presence in his completely committed portrayal of Fred, et al.

Rogers, a tall and ethereal beauty, plays Scrooge’s long-lost love Belle with a sweet and lovely disposition that renders Scrooge’s heartache all the more compelling and effectively underscoring his ruthlessness with heart, while her Ghost of Christmas Present is more broadly drawn, adding some levity to counter the more dour consequences of the onstage action.

Greg Wilson, who doubles as director of the piece and is artistic director for the newfound theatrical entity that is Actors Point, is impressive as Bob Cratchit (and his direction of the piece helps The Players to maintain a well-modulated tone and a pacing that is welcome to a work as well-known as A Christmas Carol), although the script’s conceit that he is a member of the audience selected to help out the traveling troubadours rings rather hollow and false—and it isn’t even warranted by the confines of Meeks’ adaptation.

Shannon Spencer, whom we saw earlier this season as Sheila in a production of The Boys Next Door at Lamplighters Theatre, is quite good in a variety of roles including Martha Cratchit. As Mrs. Cratchit and as Nephew Fred’s wife, Colleen Allen is lovely and understated, while Jayla Palmer is good as both Tiny Tim and Scrooge’s beloved sister Fan.

The men in the cast are equally impressive, particularly Jordan Stephens as the somewhat frightening and awe-inspiring Jacob Marley and as the kind and generous Mr. Fezziwig. David Wilson takes on the roles of several men in the story with stylish aplomb (his voice for the little boy that Scrooge greets on Christmas morning proves him worthy of any voice-over role that might come his way) and the handsome and athletic Alex Gibson displays his fine singing voice in a touching performance of "Silent Night"