Again We Go A-‘Carol’-ing

December 20, 2012
From left: Paul Morella, Paul Reisman and Edward Gero play three very different incarnations of Ebenezer Scrooge.

Stage productions of “A Christmas Carol”: a holiday tradition that never changes. That can be comforting — or incredibly boring. Branch out a little (or not) with D.C.’s varied takes on Charles Dickens’ most famous ghost story.

Once More, With Feeling: MetroStage’s “A Broadway Christmas Carol” is the same old heartwarming story — they’ve just recast Broadway tunes with lyrics about Ebenezer’s magical Christmas transformation. Tracey Stephens, one of the show’s three performers, has been with D.C. parody troupe Capitol Steps for more than a decade and knows how to strike the right balance of silly and tuneful.

MetroStage, 1201 N. Royal St., Alexandria; through Sun.; 703-548-9044.

Farce Scape: “A Christmas Carol” is traditionally more sanctimony than slapstick, but its “Enjoy life, you idiot!” message is consistent with the seeming philosophy of Faction of Fools, D.C.’s most prominent commedia dell’arte company. “A Commedia Christmas Carol,” which shoehorns Dickens’ characters into traditional Italian clowning roles, whizzes by in 90 minutes of nonstop gags. Gallaudet’s resident company often includes deaf actors who sign their lines. In this show, it’s Tiny Tim, played by Gallaudet senior Michael Sprouse.

Gallaudet University, 800 Florida Ave. NE; through Sun.; Factionoffools.org. (New York Ave.)

Out of One, Many: Charles Dickens used to go on speaking tours, relating the story of Ebenezer Scrooge onstage. Local actor Paul Morella aims to be a little more subtle than the reportedly florid Dickens was, but he’s pulling the same trick with his one-man adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” at Olney Theatre Center. Morella plays a narrator, Scrooge and all those other, less-interesting characters, too.

Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, Md.; through Dec. 30; 301-924-3400.

Old Reliable: Ford’s Theatre offers the most traditional of traditional “Christmas Carol”s. Local actor Edward Gero returns every year to play Scrooge; people wear bonnets and crinolines like those caroling troupes you see in nursing homes. It’s utterly unsurprising and yet so charming and effective. This show is our favorite way to see Washington’s cute-yet-staid holiday side. (We’d have picked the National Christmas Tree, but “A Christmas Carol” doesn’t require us to shiver in the cold or brave crowds of tourists.)

Ford’s Theatre, 511 10th St. NW; through Dec. 30, $22-$89; 202-347-4833. (Metro Center)

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Fiona Zublin | December 20, 2012