by Beki Pineda

A CHRISTMAS CAROL – Adapted by Josh Hartwell; Directed by Len Matheo. Produced by Miners Alley Playhouse (1224 Washington, Golden) through December 23. Tickets available at 303-934-3044 or minersalley.com.

Josh Hartwell, local playwright and actor, adapted this script from the classic last year for Miners Alley. It proved so successful that they brought it back for a second outing this holiday season. It’s easy to see why it was so successful. It is a gentle authentic telling of the familiar story. A group of theatre friends have gathered at a mountain cabin-like home of one of them (I truly hope one of them is lucky enough to have a home so warm and welcoming) for a traditional evening of reading Christmas tales. They have just finished with Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and have decided to continue the evening with a rendition of the Dickens tale. As actors, they have all performed in various productions in various parts throughout the years; they also have in their midst the quintessential Scrooge in Jim Hunt.

So they start putting together costumes from various trunks, pulling props out of other rooms and arguing over who is going to play whom. And off we go. The remainder of the cast – Lisa DeCaro, Meredith Young, and Jason Maxwell as well as the playwright Josh and Scrooge himself, Jim Hunt – are joined by Ella Matheo, who just happens to be the director Len Matheo’s child with wife Lisa DeCaro. So, you see, this is a real family gathering. And what a career this young actress is going to have with the looks and talent in the genes she inherited. She’s a natural!

The play progresses with only occasional interruptions as a minor disagreement will break out about how something should be done in the old way or differently. Costumes and quick changes happen easily. The ghosts arrive to impart their lessons, Scrooge learns how he has erred in his life, Tiny Tim blesses us all and the Christmas goose is delivered. For the most part, it is a straight-forward telling of the tale. They do pull off little tricks of theatre magic in making the ghosts appear and move in mysterious ways with a coat rack adding to the fun. An all around sweet and unassuming production that has a perfect ending. It celebrates what you could do with your own Christmas Eve with a little imagination. If you want a breakaway CHRISTMAS CAROL that doesn’t stray too far from the norm by a cast that is familiar and loving, this is your cuppa tea.

A WOW factor of 8.5!!