When The Ellen Theater in Downtown Bozeman reopened its doors in 2008, the first show presented on its stage was Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Now in 2021, after over a year of dark marquees worldwide due to the coronavirus pandemic, The Ellen welcomes audiences back into its aisles with “A Christmas Carol.” This year’s production, directed by Mary Jo Ludin, is a culmination of “A Christmas Carol” from years past, including steampunk elements from a previous year’s production directed by Mark Kuntz, with costume designs by Claudia Boddy and Ludin’s own regency spin.
The show opens with a striking dance number choreographed by Malia Ludin featuring the street vendors of Dickens’ London. From there we are introduced first hand to the selfishness of Ebenezer Scrooge. This year Scrooge is portrayed by beloved local actor John Hosking. Hosking’s Scrooge is a publicly serious man, but when no one is around is endlessly amused by his own brusque-ness. Joe Faifer’s Bob Cratchit brings a hearty laugh and tear to the eye any time he is on stage, sparing no second in engaging the audience. Faifer’s Cratchit is really the heart and soul of the production: not only is Cratchit and his family the recipient of Scrooge’s rediscovered generosity and empathy, but Faifer’s portrayal really makes us love Bob. We laugh when he laughs, and we cry when he mourns the loss of Tiny Tim.
Each ghost that visits Scrooge is so different from the last and it’s a joy to wonder what the next will be like. Charlotte Mae Ellison’s serene Ghost of Christmas Past is contrasted with Torie Laher’s party girl Ghost of Christmas Present to much delight. Malia Ludin’s Ghost of Christmas Future is especially chilling, silently slinking around barefoot in a plague doctor mask. There is not one weak link in this whole production. Every character is a delight, from Frank Simpson’s Joe the Cider Seller to Kamlin Cox’s Fred. This production is an excellent addition to your holiday plans and a great experience for the whole family. It should be noted, however, that young children may be frightened by the ghosts and themes of death displayed in the play. “A Christmas Carol'' runs Friday, Dec. 10, through Sunday, Dec. 12, and then again the weekend of December 17-22. Tickets are available on The Ellen Theater’s website: https://www.theellentheatre.com/.