SMITHFIELD — When we do something over and over again, it’s called a habit.
By counting on my finders and toes, I think that the Four Seasons Theatre Company in Smithfield has staged the musical A Christmas Carol at least seven times in the past decade or so.
That’s not a habit, it’s a holiday tradition, particularly since the show’s audiences keep getting bigger and bigger over the years.
Nobody goes to see A Christmas Carol to be surprised. We all know the characters. We all know the story. We can all practically recite the dialogue.
But the show is an old-fashioned family experience, the kind of evening out that people of all ages can enjoy. You don’t even need a cell phone … except to access the digital program.
Hate those things!
The Christmas Carol audiences last weekend were treated to generous helpings of the typical theatrical strengths of Four Seasons productions including strong characterizations, excellent vocals, lavish costuming, dramatic set designs and spectacular lighting effects.
Those Four Seasons trademarks were delivered under the direction of jack-of-all-trades Kody Rash, who also assisted with costuming and performed his traditional role as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
Also superbly representing the Rash family was brother Jon in the role of the Ghost of Christmas Past. But the scariest ghost in the whole show was Clifton Richards as the chain-bound Marley.
This year, newcomer Stanton Allen replaced Four Seasons veteran Scott Hunsaker in the role of the misanthrope Scrooge. If anything, Allen’s early portrayal of the Christmas grouch was more averse to the holiday than his predecessor had been, making his later change-of-heart even more miraculous.
Deven Richie’s portrayal of Bob Cratchit provided both a cheerful counterpoint to Scrooge’s gloom and touchingly tender tenor vocals.
A lovely duet by Jerry Olsen and Tina Chambers in the roles of a young Scrooge and his soon-to-be lost fiancée Emily was another vocal highlight of the show.
To a large extent, however, A Christmas Carol is a ensemble show. The massive Four Seasons vocal chorus beautifully performs the musical anthem “Christmas Together” and other tunes by composer Alan Menken.
Energetic ensemble dancing is also very much one of the show’s trademarks, especially during “Fezziwig’s Annual Christmas Ball” and a tap dance ending Act 1.
No matter how many times you see A Christmas Carol, you can’t help but marvel at the ingenuity of the craftsmen of Linset Design & Fabrication who created its scenery. The ability of various sets like Scrooge’s office and Cratchit’s home to roll smoothly out of the stage’s wings makes scene changes happen in the blink of an eye.
The only minor flaw in A Christmas Carol is also traditional, however.
Year after year, even the mammoth stage at Sky View High School is sometimes too small to comfortably contain the huge cast and chorus of A Christmas Carol. On those occasions, the Four Seasons performers look like they are desperately focused on avoiding collisions, often without success.
Evening performances of A Christmas Carol will continue at Sky View High School in Smithfield on Dec. 6 as well as Dec. 9, 10 and 11. Matinees performances are also scheduled Dec. 4 and 11.