Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

A Christmas Carol

Landmark Musicals
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Rob's review of An Adobe Christmas Carol and Dean's review of DeliKateSSen

Erick Seelinger
Photo by Max Woltman
Last year, Landmark Musicals' production of A Christmas Carol was so successful, the company decided to rev it up again for 2019. With music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Mike Ockrent, the musical version of the 1843 Charles Dickens classic premiered in 1994 at the Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden, where it ran annually through 2003. It has also appeared in recent years at the Lyceum Theatre in London, not to mention at regional theatre companies seemingly everywhere.

The Landmark production comes with full pizazz, which includes a live orchestra (conducted by Darby Fegan), impressive lighting affects (Dahl Delu), snappy choreography (Courtney and Louis Giannini), and Christmas Day snow. While the musical version didn't produce any hits, the lyrics and music are just fine for conveying the emotional swings as Scrooge makes his redemptive progress from a selfish, grumpy miser to a full-throated songster ready to take on the role of chief holiday cheerleader.

This is a story custom-made for lavish costumes and the scurrying of children. Costume designers Jaimasan Sutton, LaRue Schultz, and their assistant Hanna Cooper have devised a wild and beautiful array of props and colorful clothing for the ghosts as well as the townsfolk. An evening dance reminiscent of the party scene in The Nutcracker is a brilliant display of color and style. And Scrooge's final suit as he parades out into the streets is scrumptious. It wouldn't have occurred to me that Scrooge's story could blast out in full spectacle, but this production does just that and it works.

Director Gary Bearly delivers the story in a nice forward-charging pace. In some productions of this oft-covered tale, things can bog down as the ghosts put Scrooge through his past, present, and future paces. The Ghost of Christmas Future can be a particularly slow sinkhole. Bearly has put together a lively cast who mix with all the production aspects to keep the show bright and quick. The story is told without intermission, traveling through 100 minutes without racing or slumping.

The cast does a lovely job, from the most senior of roles down to the tiny tots. The real standouts are Erick Seelinger as Scrooge (that role takes up all of the emotional depth of the story) and all of the little kids, including some beautiful singing by Oliver Groves as Tiny Tim.

Myra Cochnar, with production help from Dahl Delu and Louis Giannini, has brought together all the elements for a delightful show that captures the rich story of a lost man's redemption while also providing a wealth of holiday cheerfulness.

This year, Albuquerque gets to see two excellent productions of A Christmas Carol: the Landmark musical and a non-musical production by The Adobe Theater. They couldn't be more different, both charming but in completely different ways. I saw both productions on the same weekend, and it didn't seem in the least like too much. So if you're trying to figure out which one to attend, go to both.

Landmark Musicals' A Christmas Carol runs through December 8, 2019, in the Rodey Theatre at the UNM Fine Arts Complex, Albuquerque NM . Performances are Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. Tickets are $22, $24, and $26, with a $2 discount for students and seniors. You can buy tickets online at, or by calling 505-925-5858 or 877-664-8661.