Aired on KSDS-FM on 12/6/19
RUN DATES: 11/23/19 – 12/29/19
VENUE: The Old Globe
“A Christmas Carol” is like a Christmas tree: No matter what you hang on it, it still stands tall and strong.
The beloved 1843 Dickens tale is so well-structured and robust, it can withstand just about anything — including a zillion re-settings, musical, comical and political.
The latest incarnation, at the Old Globe, is the brand new “Ebenezer Scrooge’s Big San Diego Christmas Show,” by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen.
Well, it isn’t exactly new — only new to San Diego.
A couple of years ago, the creators came up with the skeletal idea, using the bones of Dickens’ story, trimming and customizing it to a specific locale, initially in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Now it’s set in our hometown. This could easily become a country-spanning holiday cash-cow.
By pushing the timeframe two decades out from the original, the writers have the miserly, business-obsessed Scrooge leaving England and seeking his fortune in SoCal real estate in 1919, at the height of a huge American growth period.
That opened the floodgates for all manner of hijinks and silliness, based on local and topical references, some generic, some area-specific, from pre-existing conditions to the parking lot of Trader Joe’s; scooters to selfies to skinny margaritas; Torrey Pines to pilates; Bitcoin to Baja tacos.
All this plus the requisite three ghostly visitations, a puppety Tiny Tim, Scrooge’s past, present, future and redemption, plus a Christmas carol singalong — including “Feliz Navidad” and a bit of the Hanukkah ‘Dreidel Song” — all accomplished in 80 minutes. That’s one wild holiday ride, that even features a dubious new origin story for the Globe itself.
The true meaning of the season isn’t forgotten: giving and caring, family and open-heartedness. But it’s underscored by goofiness galore, presented by a wonderfully talented, maximally flexible cast of five, playing scads of roles.
Co-creator Greenberg’s ingenious direction is enhanced by imaginative lighting, sound and costume designs.
Final image: Ebenezer in a candy cane-striped 1920s swimsuit, carrying a surfboard — about as unimaginable as the scene of snow falling in Balboa Park.
©2019 PAT LAUNER/Patté Productions, Inc.