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Regional Reviews: San Diego

Ebenezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show
The Old Globe
Review by Bill Eadie | Season Schedule

Also see Bill's review of Cambodian Rock Band

The Cast
Photo by Jim Cox
Does San Diego need another holiday show? The Old Globe thinks we do. That company already stages Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical for much of November and December. Now in its 22nd year, Grinch has become a family tradition in San Diego and shows no sign of slowing down.

But that leaves the Globe's in-the-round Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre sitting empty. Last year, they tried Clint Black's Looking for Christmas for this slot. This year, it is Ebenezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show, by Gordon Greenberg and Steve Rosen. A take on Dickens' A Christmas Carol told with an eye toward the British "panto" style, the production might be just the sip of eggnog that San Diegans will grow to demand again and again.

A company of five revolve around Robert Joy's portrayal of Dickens' favorite miser who changes his ways after visits from three ghosts on Christmas Eve. The other four performers play multiple characters. Orville Mendoza plays Bob Cratchit and characters such as the ghost of Marley's and Mr. Fezzi. He also serves as music director. Dan Rosales plays the younger male characters, including, ingeniously, Tiny Tim. Cathryn Wake and local favorite Jacque Wilke play the women and two of the three ghosts.

The narration and some of the dialogue incorporate local references, quips that fall very much into the panto tradition. Many of the references are generic ones (the script was originally written for Pennsylvania's Bucks County Playhouse and has been adapted for its West Coast premiere in San Diego). The local references are often to landmarks or local knowledge. Two of the jokes that landed best on opening night were about the Chargers, San Diego's former professional football team, and the new Shake Shack that recently opened in Mission Valley, San Diego's main shopping district.

There is also a sweet storyline about the lack of theatres in San Diego during the time A Christmas Carol is set, concluding with references to Balboa Park, The Old Globe's location, and the very theatre in which the show is being produced.

Mr. Greenberg's staging involves clever use of props, a scenic design by Adam Koch that is full of surprises, and uniformly sparkling performances by all of the cast members. There is even a bit of audience participation in the celebration of Christmas cheer that results from Scrooge's epiphany. The merriment is also facilitated by David Israel Reynoso's costume design, Amanda Zieve's lighting design, and Bart Fasbender's sound design.

And because, at 90-minutes' runtime, Scrooge audiences will exit the theatre at about the same time as Grinch audiences, some family members can see one show, some can see the other, and all can enjoy the Globe's holiday decorations as they emerge from their respective performances.

Of course, if you're Scrooged out, cleverness and humor may not matter. But if you're not, Ebenezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show should prove to be a pleasant holiday diversion.

Ebenezer Scrooge's BIG San Diego Christmas Show runs through December 29, 2019, at the Sheryl and Harvey White Theatre, part of The Old Globe's Balboa Park campus, 1363 Old Globe Way, San Diego CA. Free parking is available in lots scattered throughout Balboa Park. Performance times are Tuesdays through Sundays at 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at the box office, by calling 619-23-GLOBE [234-5623], or by visiting