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Cruising up highly commercial Highway 17-92 last Sunday to catch the matinee of Orlando Theatre Project's A Christmas Carol, I felt a lot of bah-humbug blowing in the air. It was still hot and sunny 21 days before Christmas, and the tickets were 22 bucks apiece. But the theater building at Seminole Community College is a relaxing, spacious environment adorned with interesting art, so it helped to make the transition into the Victorian-era setting of Dickens' overly told classic. (And so did the air conditioning.)

The professional OTP has staged this Christmas tale for umpteen years, and their experience shows in the George Hamrah adaptation they efficiently execute. There are two highlights to the production: The first is the excellent capture of the world's most famous curmudgeon, Scrooge, by actor J.D. Sutton. Sutton has done this role in straight-up productions, in one-man truncations and in spin-offs such as The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge (part of last year's Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival lineup), so he's in total command as his character is transformed from a miserable tightwad to a giddy philanthropist. The second highlight is that the entire show lasts little more than an hour, so there are no toe-tapping lulls – and no intermission, either.

Other standout performers were David Michael Green as Mr. Fezziwig, whose full-bellied figure made a breath-taking cartwheel during a festive dance scene. And S. Elizabeth Block as Mrs. Fezziwig radiated energy from the stage and spoke with diction that was as clear and pleasing as a bell. There were no weak links in the remainder of the cast, most of whom took on a variety of different roles. The kiddies in the group were as charming as they needed to be, especially Will Shadley as a very Tiny Tim who brings the house down at curtain call.

Just for fun, I pretended the miserly Scrooge was George Bush. I'm still wishing that a similarly frightening ghost of Christmas Future scares the crap out of Dubya, rousing him to change his evil ways before it's too late for us all.

A Christmas Carol
Through Dec. 18
Seminole Community College, Sanford

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