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Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013

The Funniest 'Christmas Carol' Ever?

The Rep brings music and comic relief to the holiday classic

A Christmas Carol
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Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol returns once again during the holidays, reminding us of what the spirit of the season is all about. But unlike our winter’s accompanying cold and ice, this current Milwaukee Repertory Theater production truly warms the heart, and in a completely humorous way.

Director Aaron Posner is back for a second year with actor Christopher Donahue in tow as the world’s most notorious miser. Posner continues to tinker with the Joseph Hanreddy-Edward Morgan music-oriented adaptation; the comic relief and sight gags make this one of the funniest Christmas Carols ever.

Scrooge sets the tone, of course, and Donahue does a deft turn with the complex curmudgeon, bringing out the vulnerability and insecurities of a man mistreated early on in life. It’s easy to understand and even empathize with this Scrooge who tugs at our heartstrings while he tugs on his purse strings. Donahue creates a fully dimensional man with a wide range of emotions, rather than the stereotypical “Bah Humbug!” villain.

Attention must be paid to the multifaceted comedic talents of Renata Friedman, who delights as the snarky housekeeper Mrs. Dilber and the daffy Lucy, while maintaining a gentle yet firm grace as the Ghost of Christmas Past. And in a shrewd acting move to avoid typecasting, veteran Scrooge actor Jim Pickering returns as a proper and charming Mrs. Fezziwig.

The Rep’s Christmas Carol brings with it the promise of renewal and rebirth—along with plenty of smiles. And right on time for the holidays.

A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 24, at The Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St. For more information, call 414-224-9490 or visit milwaukeerep.com.