A Christmas Carol | What-A-Christmas!

A Christmas Carol | What-A-Christmas!  Cover

Both A Christmas Carol and What-A-Christmas! are playing at The Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas just in time for the holidays! One is an adaptation by Alley Theatre artistic director Rob Melsrose and the other is a modern version of A Christmas Carol adapted by Texan playwright Isaac Gómez. that takes place in the present day. See my thoughts on both of these wonderful productions.

The top-notch production brings to life the phantasmal tale amidst wonderful performances. This rendition, by Rob Melrose (adapted from Charles Dickens), “captures Dickens’ witty wording and evocative style to surprise audiences with parts of the familiar story they didn’t know were there!” (Excerpt from The Alley Theater's website). 

Ebenezer Scrooge (David Rainey) is a miserable man who has many reasons he despises Christmas. One night, his old business partner, Jacob Marley (Chris Hutchison) haunts Scrooge as a ghost telling him three spirits will visit him. The story focuses on Scrooge’s look at the past, present, and future. The story of A Christmas Carol is a classic tale and if you are familiar with the story you are sure to appreciate the twist Melrose has put on this rendition. 

Scenes designed by Michael Locher and Illusion design by Jim Steinmeyer create the Christmas magic within the production appear so seamlessly. The scenes and illusions are very well executed. There’s a scene when the ghost of Christmas past (played by Elizabath Bunch) enters the scene and multiple women with similar clothes/hair are used to appear as if she’s entering and quickly exiting from the top/bottom/left/right of the stage. Another impressive sequence is when Jacob Marley’s ghost (drenched in haunting white make-up) enters Scrooge's home; he does so from under the stage, through a chimney prop and it looks very eerie, especially with the lighting design sequence, created by Cat Tate Starmer (whose work looks terrific throughout the show). David Rainey as Scrooge delivers a believable entertaining performance of a miserable elder who experiences true transformation over the course of the production.

A Christmas Carol should be a fun time with family. It’s dramatic, holiday-festive, and (although a little long) has many facets to appreciate. 

This hilarious unorthodox comedy takes place in Houston, Texas at Wann-A-Burger (a popular Texas fast food chain) and is a one-woman production, led by the talented Briana J Resa, who plays Margot, a fast-food worker, working on Christmas Eve. Ms. Resa holds the 75-minute show together from beginning to end and is absolutely a joy to see how she has memorized so much content without getting a cue from another actor and the upbeat contagious energy she brings to the production.
This show is much tighter than the traditional version of A Christmas Carol because you do not have anyone reacting to our protagonist’s scrooge-ness. We, the audience, get to see how Margot transforms from a disgruntled worker to someone who finds freedom, joy, and closure within her life. Throughout the graveyard shift, various spirits take over Margot to communicate with her. Because of this, Resa assigns different voices to each of these different spirits and her delivery is often clever and comical.

This production does utilize strong adult language and has a drug reference but aside from that, is fairly tame! If you have kids, you may want to opt for A Christmas Carol but, if not, this a unique intriguing and exciting play that I would recommend. These were both wonderful productions that share similarities but are different enough to warrant seeing both! If I had to pick only one show I would select What-A-Christmas! because it's less expensive, has tigher pacing, and felt just a bit more refreshing than A Christmas Carol- however, I did enjoy both!

For more information / to get tickets visit The Alley Theater's website.

Final Verdict:Wonderful productions that share similarities but are different enough to warrant seeing both!