A Christmas Carol

Economic indicators suggest that we’re heading into a lean Christmas for just about everybody, and that probably includes theaters. Which, with fingers crossed, are mounting their annual Yuletide cash cows. Will budget-minded audiences risk the cost of a couple of tickets for a dividend of carefully crafted holiday spirit? For those trying to decide among the many holiday options, you just can’t go wrong with ACT’s 33rd production of A Christmas Carol (through Dec. 27). Greg Falls’ adaptation efficiently manages to hit all the high points of Charles Dickens’ 1843 original. In brief: Miserly Scrooge—played by alternating vets Sean Griffin and Allen Fitzpatrick—is given a sturdy existential fright one Christmas Eve by three visiting spirits (or four, if you count Marley). In 90 minutes, you also get Mr. Fezziwig’s ball, caroling, and the entire Cratchit clan—including Tiny Whatshisname. The production is practically guaranteed to put you in the proper holly-and-mistletoe mood. It also delivers a message about social conscience that has considerable (spiced) punch during our present hard times. Director Kurt Beattie has helmed Carol so many times now that I’d hate to see what his Christmas dreams look like. ACT Theatre, 700 Union St., 292-7676, www.acttheatre.org $5–$47. Plays Fri.-Sun. & Tues.; daily starting Dec. 9 (except Dec. 15 & 25). Ends Dec. 27. See Web site for times. JOHN LONGENBAUGH

Tuesdays, Fridays-Sundays; Dec. 9-27. Starts: Nov. 28. Continues through Dec. 27, 2008

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