by Jenna Kunselman
Returning to Carnegie Stage this holiday season with harmonious vigor and exhilaration: The Carols! This charming musical comedy, directed by Erica Cuenca and Robyne Parrish, creatively revisits an archaic tale with an original twist told in delightful, crisp harmonies and whimsical wisecracks. The Carol sisters - Silvia, Lily, and Rose, whose names are soon learned through a catchy tune - are tasked with staging a production of A Christmas Carol at their local VFW by the authority of Miss Betty, the landlady.
Set in 1944 Picatinny, NJ, most of the men in town are away at war, and auditions yield a rather empty and undesirable turnout, resulting in the bubbly trio and Miss Betty playing most of the male roles in their rendition of Dickens’ story. Luckily, the only attendee at auditions brings enough personality for an entire cast of performers. Melvin Shaatz, a quick-witted Jewish comedian passing through town, introduces a new imaginative sense of comedy and culture to the Carol sisters, Miss Betty, and the stage at the VFW. The five of them, along with their pianist of very few words, work on perfecting this unconventional production to impress their highly anticipated audience members. Voices blend together with invigorating, flamboyant harmony through each catchy tune as the room fills with that familiar feeling of warm Christmas cheer.
While these sisters have a special bond, they each have a passion in life that sets them apart from each other, leading them down rather distant paths as that passion is pursued. We are there for their most crucial moments as each girl talks through the possibilities and potential of her future, sometimes beaming with excitement and other times hesitant and doubtful. Silvia has dreams of following in Eleanor Roosevelt’s footsteps, which inspires her to work toward moving to DC to become an influential, memorable politician. Rose fantasizes about marriage and aspires to settle down as a military wife with a big loving family. Lily struggles to look forward to the future and would rather relish these moments she has with her sisters before they slip away. Miss Betty gives the girls prudent guidance out of fear that they may end up like her; burned out and cynical due to regret and loneliness.
The show ends on the perfect note, leaving no stone unturned, earnestly pulling at the heartstrings. Opening weekend for The Carols left audience members in tears, waiting in the lobby to meet the performers with excitement and praise. This show brings a truly special story to our stage and we urge you to come experience it for yourself before it closes on December 14th.