Trinity Rep heads online to keep ‘Carol’ going
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Necessity is the mother of invention. The Covid-19 pandemic posed huge challenges if the Trinity Repertory Company were to keep alive its 43-year-old tradition of presenting an annual production of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
Fortunately, all involved were up to the challenge, and the free 60-minute streaming production now online until Jan. 10 is a worthy successor to its past triumphs.
This production recognizes the seismic shifts in society in the past year and how the tenor and darkness of Dickens’ piece reflects the pall the pandemic has cast over society. And as the pandemic has affected people of color disproportionately, it made sense to employ a diverse cast people of color in many of the key roles, led by the nonpareil actor Joe Wilson Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge, a role he last played to great effect for Trinity in 2017.
Wilson is a commanding presence in any character he performs, and his virtual Scrooge is no exception, from his harrowing encounters with the spirits to his joyous redemption.
The adaptation by Director Curt Columbus puts the action in the present, with the Trinity Rep building and downtown Providence itself squarely at the center of the action, but this production succeeds due to one of the stars who never actually went before the cameras.
Photography director Alberto Genao combined in-person filming, actors self- recording at home while receiving direction via Zoom, animated illustrations, and special effects to tell the story of Scrooge’s journey to redemption.
Taavon Gamble, who also choreographs is Scrooge’s beleaguered clerk, Bob Cratchit. Stephen Thorne’s Jacob Marley makes his ghostly appearance on a TV monitor and Daniel Duque-Estrada is a spirited Ghost of Christmas Present, and there are strong contributions in a variety of roles from other Trinity mainstays such as Rebecca Gibel and Rachael Warren.
While bringing the story up to present day, Columbus has updated the work to reflect modern sensibilities –it’s now Mrs. Fezziwig Scrooge works for, and Cratchit has a husband.
Trinity Rep’s free, on-demand streaming production of “A Christmas Carol Online” was released on Dec. 17 and will be available for unlimited viewing until January 10, 2021 at 11:59 pm. Go to trinityrep.com/carol to register for free access.
Early on, the registration counted 150,000 viewers from all 50 U.S. states, District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, and 28 countries on five continents have already signed up to watch the show. Registration and additional information including free bonus content and answers to frequently asked questions, can be found at trinityrep.com/carol.
The team, according to the theater, was committed to strict adherence to health and safety protocols and was motivated by a deep desire to continue Trinity Rep’s 43-year tradition of telling Charles Dickens’ holiday story.
The production invites optional viewer participation, and an at-home prop list is available in the online viewer guide at trinityrep.com/viewerguide.
The viewer guide also contains bonus content such as containing articles, activities, and recipes; a study guide and video workshop for teachers; a sensory friendly guide; a virtual painting party video; and a community sing-a-long video. “A Christmas Carol Online” is available with English or Spanish captions.
According to the theater, when registration opened in November, record numbers of people signed up, with more “orders” coming in during the first 36 hours than were processed in ten months in 2019. More than 100,000 students from around the world were expected to be watching with their classes in the coming weeks.
The Trinity Repertory Company production of “A Christmas Carol.” Adapted and Directed by CURT COLUMBUS. From the novella by CHARLES DICKENS Executive Producers TOM PARRISH, LAURA E. SMITH. Director of Photography and editor, ALBERTO GENAO. Costume Designer, AMANDA DOWNING CARNEY Music Composer, MICHAEL RICE Music Composer “The Shepherd’s Carol” and “Hey Ho,” RICHARD CUMMING, First Assistant Director, KRISTEN GIBBS Choreographer, TAAVON GAMBLE. Streaming online through Jan. 10. For free online access, go to trinityrep.com/carol