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Theater Review - 'A Christmas Carol'

Theater Review – ‘A Christmas Carol’

Produced by: Theatre Three – Port Jefferson

Reviewed by: Jeb Ladouceur 

Jeffrey Sanzel as ‘Ebenezer Scrooge’ (foreground) and his Clerk, ‘Bob Crachit’ - Douglas J. Quattrock
On Long Island, Christmas wouldn’t be the happy, traditional time we all look forward to, were it not for the inclusion of Theatre Three’s perennial staging of Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol.’ 

Every year at about this time, the itch to kick back in Port Jefferson’s 160-year-old playhouse and wonder at the genius of its guiding light, Director Jeffrey Sanzel (who wrote the prize-winning adaptation) wafts over us like the millions of falling leaves that herald the arrival of the holiday season along with the great Sanzel’s masterpiece.
If that smacks of hyperbole, you must ask yourself how many staged dramatic versions of world-renowned stories you know of that have kept audiences returning annually to the same venue for nearly thirty-five years!
It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to learn that some of the roles being played by newcomers to this familiar production were interpreted a few years back by their mothers or fathers. That’s how much staying power originally Dickens … and now Sanzel … have injected into this most endearing (and enduring) of all Yultide-oriented dramas.
You may number this reviewer among those critics who have found Theatre Three’s productions of ‘A Christmas Carol’ more and more charming as the years go by. Leave it to Director Sanzel and his talented retinue to alter for the better even that which so many Long Islanders have already dubbed “…a perfect classic of the first rank…” and we’ve been quick to embrace the show as our very own contribution to the Arts. 
That claim is not as presumptuous as it may sound at first blush, for just as a book is never really completed until it’s read, no play is ever truly finalized until seen in performance. Thus, local theater fans themselves contribute in a major way to the success of this home-grown classic.
Indeed, Jeffrey Sanzel seems to delight so much in touching up his superb adaptation annually, that some of us who note these improvements with the passing seasons have taken to calling him ‘The Leonardo of Port Jefferson,’ such is his dedication to perfection. Of course, we do so in private … because the self- effacing impresario would be aghast to know that in his re-workings he is being compared to the greatest of all renaissance men. So be it. We stand by our characterization.
It is only fair that five artists should be saluted for having earned key ‘A Christmas Carol’ roles for the first time. They are: Nicole Bianco (a charming Belle) … Eric Hughes (convincing London apprentice Dick Wilkins) … Michelle LaBozzetta (the perfect narrator of Christmas Past) … Andrew Lenahan (wonderful as Jacob Marley) … and Richard Schindler (endearing as the jolly Fezziwig). Congratulations to them all … their sure-footed performances on the Theatre Three stage reveal clearly why they’ve been selected for the important parts they play.
Of course, this most beloved of all Christmas Season stories belongs largely (though not exclusively by any means) to its antagonist-turned-protagonist—Ebenezer Scrooge. The central character is played by Jeffrey Sanzel himself, and it is nigh on to impossible to picture anyone else undertaking the miser’s demanding but unforgettable role. Similarly, one can hardly imagine a serious patron of the Theater Arts ever leaving Port Jefferson’s famed Theatre Three … its glittering Main Street marquee flashing the invitation to, ‘A Christmas Carol’ … without feeling amply rewarded for having partaken of the grand old playhouse’s holiday treat.
The Show runs thru December 29th - (631) 928-9202 … and by all means, bring the kids … they’ll love you for it!

Award-winning writer, Jeb Ladouceur is the author of a dozen novels, and his theater and book reviews appear in several major L.I. publications. His recent hit, THE GHOSTWRITERS, explores the bizarre relationship between the late Harper Lee and Truman Capote. Ladouceur’s topical thriller, THE SOUTHWICK INCIDENT, was introduced at the Smithtown Library on May 21st. The book involves a radicalized Yale student and his CIA pursuers. Mr. Ladouceur’s revealing website is www.JebsBooks.com 


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