Entertainment – A Christmas Carol At The Pabst Theater: An Old Tradition Begins Anew

The opening number for The Milwaukee Reps production of “A Christmas Carol” at the beautiful Pabst Theater in downtown Milwaukee.

It is said in the theater that no matter what calamity occurs “the show must go on”! This phrase is usually reserved for the cast, crew, set and properties. Today it refers to the risk of inclement weather.

The Rep just issued an email to patrons that regardless of how much snow the predicted SnowMageddon drops on the greater Milwaukee area Thursday into Saturday…The show will go on! So if you have tickets for any of the final performances 12/21 through 12/24, plan extra time getting to the Pabst Theater.

Beth and I attended this wonderful production last Saturday at the 2:00 matinee. Great seats; row E seats 3 & 4. Close to center stage, just off the left isle.

Our view of the stage. Lead actor Matt Daniels will use the partition on stage to transform from Charles Dickens to Ebenezer Scrooge between the prelude and the opening scene.

The Rep has been staging this Dickens classic every year since 1976. The character of Scrooge had been played by Lee E. Ernst for many years. However, this season there is a new Scrooge played by Matt Daniels. We loved Ernst’s portrayal in 2022. Daniels makes the character his own, and we loved this version of Scrooge too.

Daniels utilizes his long frame and cartoon like facial expressions well during freeze frame moments. What freeze frame moments, you ask? Each ghost has moments during the production when they ‘freeze’ Scrooge for the sake of asking the audience for permission to continue the lessons or haunting of Scrooge. In every instance, Daniels is stopped in the most uncomfortable and exaggerated blocking possible within the realm of physics. The result gives the audience both comic relief from the seriousness of the lesson and engages the audience at the same time.

Daniels also brings a realistic sense of remorse while attempting to interact and coach his younger self during the Ghost of Christmas past scenes. The visiting Scrooge desperately tries to plead with his younger self to accept an invitation from Thomas’ family and go on Christmas Holiday with them instead of staying at the school all alone. Similar scenes with young adult Scrooge when interacting with Belle. Daniels portrays Ebenezer’s wish to tell Belle how much he loves her is heart breathtakingly realistic.

However, no scenes are played with more compassion and care than Ebenezer looking in on the Cratchit family while they worry about the future health of little Tiny Tim and again during his end of the play scene asking Fred, while trembling with humility, if he is still welcome at their Christmas dinner table.

There are plenty of new actors in 2022 cast compared to the 2021 cast. But there are also several major roles with familiar faces from 2021 including memorable portrayals of Fred, Marley, Ghost of Christmas Present, Mrs Fezziwig & Mrs. Dilber, Bob Cratchit, Young Adult Scrooge, Mr. Fezziwig, Mrs. Cratchit, Tiny Tim, and Belle.

There are tickets remaining for all performances, but this is the last week of the run. Get them now, put on your snow tires and enjoy a great show. The moving set is awesome!

View of the stage as we walked down the isle. The house holds 1300 and it was a sold out show for last Saturday’s matinee.
View of the house from our seats looking up two balconies.

Published by R Dub's Rub

Conversational BLOG writer and contributing writer for LocaLeben magazine. My BLOG entries represent observations that intrigue, amuse, inspire or stimulate my appetite.

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