December 20, 2012

'Christmas Carol' delivers music, message

MONTREAL — What would you do with a second chance?

The Rialto Theatre Foundation presents the Charles Dickens seasonal classic “A Christmas Carol” for a nine-performance run beginning tonight.

Directed by Stephen Vincelli and adapted by Barry O’Connell, the Rialto version combines live theater with music — 14 traditional holiday songs in all — and a cast of 20, including the entire Crachit clan, Tiny Tim and the man we all love to hate — Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Canadian actor James Milvain.

“This is a traditional look at the work,” Milvain said.


The classic was first written as a novella by Dickens in 1843. The work has been adapted numerous times for the big screen, as well. This marks Milvain’s second time performing as Scrooge at the Rialto.

“He’s a pretty deep character,” Milvain said. “He’s a curmudgeon, he’s cranky, he’s ornery, and downright mean.”

Above all said about Scrooge’s "Debbie Downer" attitude, Milvain says, there are reasons behind his grouchy demeanor.

“He’s also very lonely. And he’s had some tragedy in his life,” Milvain said. “There are always reasons why people are the way they are.”

Milvain says that even though the story is so well known, the audience still needs the gentle reminder of this tale of redemption and second chances.

“Probably a lot of people out there know it word for word,” Milvain said. “But they still come to see it with great anticipation. To actually see it unfold is always new again.”


Part of the newness comes with the cache of live music and holiday songs. There are 14 traditional songs and carols sung during the production.

“All of this great music and stage movement happens throughout the show,” said Milvain, who adds the live soundtrack occasionally turns into a sing-along.

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