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There's hope that comes with 'A Christmas Carol'

By by dianna wray/dwray@vicad.com
Dec. 14, 2011 at 6:14 a.m.

Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Jeffrey Bean, is pleasantly haunted by the Spirit of Christmas Present, played by James Belcher, in the Alley Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol."

IF YOU GO

WHAT: "A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story"WHERE: The Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave., HoustonWHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday, through Dec. 27COST: $25-$79

WHAT: "The Lion in Winter" WHERE: Company OnStage, 536 Westbury Square, HoustonWHEN: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, through Dec. 17COST: $13-$15

WHAT: "The Santaland Diaries"WHERE: The Alley Theatre, 615 Texas Ave., HoustonWHEN: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. Friday; 2:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, through Dec.. 31COST: Tickets start at $25

WHAT: "Imprinting the Divine: Byzantine and Russian Icons"WHEN: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday, through March 18WHERE: 1515 Sul Ross St., HoustonCOST: Free

It's never too late for a second chance. Until the nails are in the coffin, there's time to change.

Think on that, and go check out the Alley Theater's production of "A Christmas Carol." It's Christmas time; it's the thing to do.

The story of "A Christmas Carol" always reminds me of that. People don't often choose to change, but if ever there was hope that real change is possible, Charles Dickens' seasonal tale of Ebenezer Scrooge brings me that hope.

The story of how Scrooge came to change his ways over the course of three hauntings on Christmas Eve to embrace life, love, and - of course - Christmas, is at it's core hopeful.

He is a man who has royally screwed up much of his life, losing the things he is only now finding were really important. He has screwed up, but at the end of the tale - spoiler warning - he is given another chance to make things right.

I watch "A Christmas Carol," in some form, every holiday season, and every time, it makes me cry in this weird hopeful way. There's a reason the tale is one of the most popular ones around during the Yuletide Season. We've all made mistakes, and there's something wondrous about seeing the change that takes place overnight in the heart of that "grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner." I love it.

The Alley has been putting on their production of "A Christmas Carol" for years. The production is a lively one, moving the story along at a brisk pace that never drags or dawdles in the wrong spots. They've even dressed the production up a bit more over the years, adding special effects that make the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come a truly terrifying specter.

Watching Scrooge watch his young self make one of the greatest mistakes of his life, it's impossible not to feel for him as he rediscovers that despair. Watching that solitary oyster warm to the Ghost of Christmas Present, and that spirit's exuberant embrace of the joy of life, demands a smile.

We're all flawed, and we've all made mistakes, but there is still hope.

The moment Scrooge overcomes the heavy things inside himself and decides to change is always my favorite part. It's impossible not to cry then, too, but they're always good tears, the kind that come with the hope of hope and the possibility of redemption.

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