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LIGHTNING REVIEW: It's the right time for this story

Peter Thomasson as Scrooge and Preston Dyar as The Ghost of Christmas Present and company in the Flat Rock Playhouse production of “A Christmas Carol.” [PHOTO BY SCOTT TREADWAY/Treadshots] Peter Thomasson as Scrooge and Preston Dyar as The Ghost of Christmas Present and company in the Flat Rock Playhouse production of “A Christmas Carol.” [PHOTO BY SCOTT TREADWAY/Treadshots]

Early on in “A Christmas Carol” Ebenezer Scrooge barks at his office clerk, “What right have you to be jovial? You’re poor enough.”

To which Bob Cratchit jovially responds: “What right have you to be miserable? You’re rich enough.”
The story turns on the two questions and of course carries the audience on the journey of Scrooge’s life, from his unhappy childhood to present day, when he walls himself from the joy of the season with an angry rap of his cane and the famous growl of “Bah Humbug.”
Reprising the role he last played on the Flat Rock Playhouse stage two years ago, Peter Thomasson portrays the transformation with power and pathos. We believe in his hard-heartedness, then his fear and finally his understanding of charity and appreciation of it.
Steve Carlisle also is back as the Ghost of Jacob Marley from two years ago. Preston Dyar is delightfully benevolent as the Ghost of Christmas Present. And Scott Treadway and Linda Edwards, as the Fezziwigs, liven things up midway through Act 1 with the musical dance number “The Hearty, the True and the Bold.” As Cratchit, Willie Repoley lights the stage up with irrepressible good cheer, delivering the kind of wisdom and optimism that comes only from a deep faith and forgiving spirit.
Director Amy Jones has once again made good use of the youth cast from Studio 52, the Playhouse teaching arm. Audiences are especially rewarded by the singing of Kyra Hewitt.
The Flat Rock Playhouse presents as good a Christmas Carol as you’ll find anywhere, thanks to a cast that fits well together and is obviously having fun. A tip of the top hat, too, to costume designer Ashley Arnold Crump, who has once again brought 1840s London live to the stage, choreographer Madison Johnson, who makes all the moving parts work magically well, and set designer Dennis Maulden and lighting designer CJ Barnwell, who transform the stage from gloomy to dream-like to triumphant.
“A Christmas Carol” is one of those stories that never gets old. More relevant than ever, the drama's message is just the right tonic for this time of year, in this most unusual of years. It transports us from the stress of the shopping mall and the noise of the news channels to the comfort of a familiar story that reminds us what the season is all about after all.

"A Christmas Carol" runs through Dec. 17 on the Mainstage of the Flat Rock Playhouse. Tickets are ­$15-40 and can be purchased by calling the Playhouse box office at 828-693-0731, toll-free at 866-737-8008 or visiting www.flatrockplayhouse.org.