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This year's production of Theatre In The Park's A Christmas Carol marks the 36th annual mounting of one of Raleigh's most prized traditions. Attendants loyal to Ira David Wood III's adaptation of Dickens's classic may have been grieved to find that the longstanding Ebenezer Scrooge was to be kept from his stage due to heart surgery a few weeks before the performance. Carol patrons need not fear, for the actor's son Ira David Wood IV filled in and carried on his father's legacy with seamless transition. While heart surgery may have kept him from performing, it couldn't keep him off stage. Ira David Wood III made an unexpected cameo and, judging by the roar of the crowd, it was much to their delight. Audience members were assured in the program that he will return to the stage next year. IDW IV did a beautiful job following in his father's footsteps – big shoes to fill indeed – and with the help of his wildly talented ensemble, A Christmas Carol once again invited the Christmas season to Raleigh, warming the hearts of all the attendants with humor and Christmas cheer.
Act One served mainly to establish Scrooge as the typical humbug-Christmas-hater, but not as you may know him. IDW III''s combination of Robin Williams-like manic antics with Jim Carrey-like delivery introduced humor to Scrooge that brings audiences back year after year. Most won't miss the real plot of Act One, as long as A Christmas Carol continues to deliver surprises and contemporary humorous twists on the classic tale. Act Two maintains the humorous essence of the show while also delivering the moral and proving Scrooge a changed man. With each visit of a new Christmas ghost, Scrooge's icy heart melts a little more. From the beautiful pas de deux performed during the visit of the pretty young Ghost of Christmas Past to the lively jazz performance with the Ghost of Christmas Present, whose deep bass voice was enough to move an audience on its own, by the time Scrooge's transformation was completed in the form of an Elvis impersonation with the Ghost of Christmas Present, the audience members were on their feet.
When a company devotes so much time to humor and spectacle in a particular show, performance quality may sometimes be diminished. This was not the case for TIP's A Christmas Carol. After thirty-six years of polish, this show delivers just the amount of comedy and spectacle to hold the audience's approval as well as the production quality to make it great. IDW IV's control of his vocal quality ranged Scrooge's character from crotchety British man to good-old country boy that Raleigh can relate to. The company presented flawless ensemble numbers, and the visual spectacle iced the cake. Ira David Wood III's A Christmas Carol ushers in the holidays and reminds us what the Christmas season is all about.
TIP's Christmas Carol continues through 12/15. For details, see our calendar.
*The author is a member of CVNC's internship program at Meredith College.