IT'S THE DICKENS.
While most audiences hold the perennial Nutcracker dear to their Christmas hearts and cherish memories of this childhood tradition, others look forward each Christmas Eve to a replay of Dickens's A Christmas Carol. Perhaps it was Lionel Barrymore's annual radio reading, or the television rerun of Alistair Sims's 1951 United Artists feature film, or even a good reading aloud, such as Patrick Stewart's, of Mr. Scrooge.
Honolulu Dance Theatre has made a new tradition, presenting its seventh annual Scrooge! An original ballet, although more theater than dance, Scrooge! was conceived, directed and choreographed by Matthew Wright, HDT's executive and artistic director. He also managed the lead role, maintaining a good characterization plus a back bent forward at a ninety-degree angle.
Dickens's own preface to his 1843 short story tells us that his "chief purpose was (to create) in a whimsical kind of masque which the good humor of the season justified, to awaken some loving and forbearing thoughts never out of season ... "Wright provides much of the familiar tale, taking cues from those masques. He finds good direction right in the text, such as the description of Mr. Fezziwig's raucous English country dance party. Ebenezer's jolly former employer is played by Squire Coldwell with lovable absurdity. Tisha Love danced the role of Mrs. Fezziwig as characterized, with "one vast substantial smile."
Quinn Allen's Bob Cratchit was a well-formed character. Allen was clean and athletic whether dancing on his feet or standing on his head. Samuel Reece III played a formidable Marley's Ghost, whose chains were actually young dancers from HDT's school clinging and dragging behind him.
Celia Chun is associate director of HDT and director of its school. She is the real and extraordinarily flexible backbone of the company, and stepped in to replace an injured dancer to play a graceful Belle, the young Ebenezer's first love. Emily Latimer's Tiny Tim provided a sweet a cappella rendition of the winter song praising Good King Wenceslaus.
The burial scene is particularly well-staged, with a huge Celtic cross and gravestones being tossed and tumbled around by glow-in-the-dark skeletons. Wright as the transformed Scrooge finally straightens up, dons the top half of a Santa suit and does a high-kicking jig. The Ebenezer Scrooge-turned-Santa shows up with a nice modern twist--his newfound generosity. He then leads the ensemble finale singing "O Come All Ye Faithful"--faithful to Dickens and the spirit of Christmas past, present and always.
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|Article Type:||Dance Review|
|Date:||Mar 1, 2001|
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