Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at ACT

It wouldn’t be Christmas in Seattle without ACT’s presentation of “A Christmas Carol,” the Dickens’ fable about greed, love, compassion, and most of all redemption. The production varies from year to year—actors, set, emphasis—with some versions better than others. This year’s version is based on the one presented in 1996, not one of ACT’s most powerful offerings.

Of course, it captures the mystery and message of the holiday. But the ghost of Marley isn’t as frightening; the circumstance of the Cratchits isn’t as moving. The Fezziwig’s celebration isn’t as merry. The ghosts of Christmas past, present and future aren’t as arresting. ACT’s done it better in the past, but even so, the story is a hallmark of the holiday season with a message of good will whose repetition benefits us all. You’ll not be sorry to partake of its magic.

Peter Crook as Ebenezer Scrooge is outstanding; he personifies a true monster of a man before he meets his Christmas Eve apparitions. His ecstacy when he’s reborn on Christmas day is truly infectious. And Justin Alley as the ill-used Bob Cratchit is like a whipped dog when in the company of Scrooge, his nasty employer. But what a lovely father he is when freed from his office.

Despite its limitations, this Christmas standard will move and cheer you.

Through Dec. 29 at ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., Seattle, (206 292-7676 or www.acttheatre.org).

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