Every December, poor souls in newsrooms across the nation have to see more holiday theater than is healthful. This year, Cienna Madrid is taking the bullet for the rest of us at The Stranger. This is her first installment in a series. Read her reviews and pity her fate. —Eds.
At the risk of being heckled out of hipsterville, I must admit: I love Christmas with the unconditional fervor of a child—the schmaltzy decorations, the Jingle Cats' yowling rendition of "Silent Night," the themed sweaters. For me, Christmas isn't about baby Jesus or presents, it's about celebrating kindness while consuming enough See's candy to contract seasonal diabetes. In this spirit, I'm going to review the gamut of Seattle's Christmas theater so that I may foist onto you the best this season has to offer.
First stop, Scrooge: The Musical, which takes the plot of Charles Dickens's beloved 1843 classic, A Christmas Carol, and sets it to song (after song after song). Thanks to Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge is Christmas's oldest villain this side of atheism. He embodies the antithesis of the holiday: greed, loneliness, impolitesse, and sour-faced humbuggery. Over the course of one night, Scrooge is confronted with three ghosts—the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future—who collectively convince him to become a decent human being.
If daytime Emmys were awarded to community-theater casts, Seattle Musical Theater would be in the running for a shiny new paperweight. Scrooge: The Musical has many strengths, including Scrooge himself, played by J. Stegar Thompson, whose mosquito-ish speaking voice is pleasantly offset by a beautiful baritone. Kitana Turnbull's portrayal of Tiny Tim is heroically pitiful. Rebecca Maiten's Ghost of Christmas Present is a buxom party. All the actors are lively, which is incredibly impressive considering that about half the cast has yet to hit puberty.
Unfortunately, too much of a good thing is the kiss of death in community theater, and clocking in at two and a half hours, Scrooge: The Musical is at least an hour too long. The woman directly in front of me awoke to the sound of her own snores just before intermission. Two children behind me quietly begged their mother to take them home as the cast burst into song for the 19th time.
It's a serious but common misstep: Theater should leave its audience wanting more, not much, much, much less. Because once an audience has slogged through 20 songs detailing what a dick Scrooge is, they have no energy left to celebrate his redemption. They have no strength left to applaud the hardworking cast. They all just want to get the fuck ho-ho-home.
This article has been updated since its original publication.