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How's a Scrooge to Choose? Your Guide to the Best Versions of "A Christmas Carol"

Written by Cindy Marie Jenkins on Tuesday, December 5th, 2017 at 3:05am.

Here at Nook, we have a passion for people, places, and properties. There is a reason that we say people first, for what makes a neighborhood special if not the people who live there? Welcome to #TastemakerTuesday, where we’ll feature the visionaries in our favorite nooks who are dedicated to building a better community through their talents.

Who knew that when Charles Dickens set pen to paper, writing chapter after chapter of his serial A Christmas Carol, that it would become the holiday staple of our times? It is The Nutcracker of every theater company, the chestnut that gets dusted off annually, costumes fitted to new or returning actors, iconic props unpacked from storage, all so that you can enjoy a story of greed and despair that we know will turn out alright in the end.

The holidays are a mixed bag of emotions for many people, but we can all count on one thing: Scrooge will freak out after seeing his past and present wrongdoings and repent before his grave is looted by robbers. He will buy that last turkey and give the errand boy a tip, he will give Bob Cratchit that raise and support Tiny Tim’s medical bills so he can live. Ebenezer Scrooge will live out the rest of his life among new friends and the family who’ve hoped for his goodness to return all these years. He will sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” and even throw in a good old “Bah, humbug!” for old time’s sake.

And even though there is no lack of fantastic portrayals of Dickens’s favorite miser on film -- with my personal favorite being Michael Caine, who only did it so his daughter would be proud of him -- there’s nothing like seeing it live. And so we found some of the more exciting and well-reviewed adaptations of the Dickens Christmas class for you to enjoy in your Nook Neighborhood!

Los Angeles/Long Beach

  • A Noise Within’s retelling of the tale uses all the theatricality at the disposal of this classic theatre company, and to great acclaim. If you want to experience a new version that adheres to the original story and themes, this is the production for you. Through December 23.

  • For a more traditional version, Long Beach Playhouse offers the sixth incarnation of Chris Mertan’s incarnation. LBP tells the story with merriment by an ensemble of eight. Through December 23.

  • Thousand Oaks Repertory Plaza produces their annual Christmas Carol production in the beautiful Thousand Oaks Civic Plaza. Somehow managing an opulent and intimate production at the same time, you won’t regret spending a holiday evening here!

Orange County

  • South Coast Repertory has been producing this version of A Christmas Carol for nearly its entire existence. Their cast is not just comprised of a who’s who in the professional theatre scene, but some actors, including Hal London, Jr., as Scrooge, are founding members of SCR. The family feel of the artistic team shines through its production, keeping families returning year after year. Through December 27.

  • SCR’s adaptation is such an area tradition that it seems no other Orange County theater event attempts to compete. You can, however, also see  A Snow White Christmas at Laguna Playhouse and 100 performers in The Nutcracker at the Segerstrom’s Center for the Arts.

Bay Area

  • The Lesher Center for the Arts has been a Bay staple for 50 years, and their annual version of the Dickens classic brings thousands through their doors. Adapted by Cynthia Caywood and RIchard L. James, their production runs through December 17.

  • A.C.T., or American Conservatory Theater, has been the number 1 nonprofit theater in San Francisco and their Christmas Carol has all the gorgeous stylings of a tradition not to be missed. No wonder the theater’s been strong since William Ball founded it in 1965.

  • Add some more sentimentality to Dickens’ story by seeing it performed by 2nd to 12th graders at the Straz Center’s Patel Conservatory. They even have sensory-friendly performances and Social Stories to help children with sensory issues  

San Diego

  • ACT San Diego presents the classic on the Lyceum Stage, with all your favorite characters in a thrilling retelling. Through December 20.

  • Welk Resorts produces a musical adaptation by the award-winning Alan Menken (Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid) with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Through December 31.

  • The Cygnet Theatre invites you into a Victorian Christmas card with its’ original stagecraft, puppetry and music. A San Diego Union Tribune’s Critic’s Pick in 2015 & 2015, it runs through Christmas Eve.

Do you want to live near performing arts centers? Use our groundbreaking algorithm to find the California nook that’s right for you!



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