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Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

The student news site of Westwood High School.

Westwood Horizon

Spirited Scrooge Spectacle: ZACH’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ Stuns

Mayla Montgomery
From November 17- December 31, ZACH Theatre has been putting on their unique spin on Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol.’ A holiday tradition in Austin, the theatre has been putting on various iterations of this classic tale for years. A grand spectacle chock full of great performances, this year’s show remains an amazing outing for the whole family.

Christmas in Austin is far from the wintery wonderland many associate with the holiday. But despite the persistent humidity and warm temperatures, many of the city’s favorite Christmas traditions are still going strong, including ZACH Theatre’s annual production of A Christmas Carol.

A unique spin on Charles Dickens’ classic story about a curmudgeonly miser whose outlook on life is changed when he’s haunted by three spirits, ZACH has been putting on various iterations of this production for years. An energetic jukebox musical with astonishing production design, the show’s infectious enthusiasm and undeniable holiday cheer make for a lovely holiday activity for families.

This year’s cast is chock full of astounding performances and powerful voices. Matt DeCaro as Ebeneezer Scrooge is a consistent delight and a good anchor for the story. While his interpretation of Scrooge is very traditional, DeCaro’s commitment makes for a dynamic and hilarious character. Rod Sanford’s powerful stage presence and even more powerful baritone give his Marley a uniquely ominous energy. His rendition of Man In The Mirror early in the first act was certainly a standout of the show. Another standout was the scene-stealing Paris Bennet as the Ghost of Christmas Present. With a soulful belt and oodles of personality to match, Bennet was an absolute joy in every scene she was in. The same could be said of Kenny Williams’ Ghost of Christmas Past. A flamboyant and enthusiastic presence, Williams had the entire audience laughing and grinning as he took Scrooge through his many Christmases past. 

In addition to the adult principal roles, there were two student casts to fill out the company. Serving as an ensemble, along with a few named roles, these kids (ranging from elementary to high school ages) got the opportunity to be a part of the entire production process, gaining valuable experience and providing the show with a healthy dose of youthful exuberance. 

The songs selected for this year’s show included a mix of both classic Christmas Carols and pop hits from throughout the decades. Crowd pleasers abounded and were made even more fun for the audience with the addition of glow sticks that the audience was encouraged to use during certain songs. From Pitbull’s Don’t Stop the Party and Dua Lipa’s Don’t Start Now to certifiable Christmas classics like God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and Joy to the World, the score was downright infectious.

Another aspect of the performance that was astonishing was the production design. The intricate sets effortlessly blended the Victorian setting of the original with the high energy and vibrant tone of the show. With backgrounds that emphasized the passage of time through a consistent clock motif, the moving parts of the set were able to stand out even more. And there was plenty of motion. Scrooge’s bed doubled as a carriage for a stretch, and director Dave Steakley made ample use of the stage’s revolving center to transfer to new locations, or simply provide a dynamic view of crowded settings. All of the sets were incredibly effective and only furthered the over-the-top fun of the songs. 

Rooted in Victorian-era fashion, there was a myriad of gowns in elegant fabrics and striking colors as well as neatly tailored suits. Where things got more fun was with the Ghosts’ costumes. The Ghost of Christmas Past was dressed in a suit jacket and knickers with golden embroidery, accompanied by a fan with LED lights. The Ghost of Christmas Present wore an elegant deep green dress and cloak, adorned with clocks and a fur trim. The Ghost of Christmas Past had an admirably ghoulish and visually striking ensemble. The ghost of Jacob Marley wore an elaborate chain creation that provided both visual and sonic interest for the audience. All in all, the costumes truly served to elevate the characters and provide even more glamor to the production. 

The only place the play fell slightly short was in its staging. While every performer had remarkable vocals, they were often stationary while singing, with the rest of the actors onstage simply freezing in a tableau. Scrooge and his various ghostly escorts mostly didn’t participate in the numbers, instead standing off to the side and becoming passive audience members. In the numbers where there were some dance moves, they were generally simplistic and didn’t necessarily add much to the overall scene. This certainly wasn’t true of every scene, but there were many where it sometimes felt more like a concert than a play. 

Overall though, ZACH’s production of A Christmas Carol remains a tradition for a reason. With its ever-evolving soundtrack, consistently great actors, and stunning production value, the show is sure to be a memorable experience for the whole family. Its infectious energy and inimitable holiday spirit are more than capable of engaging even the Grinchiest grumps. When watching the production, it becomes increasingly obvious why it has become an enduring tradition for so many families — and it is surely a tradition that will continue well into the future. 

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About the Contributor
Mayla Montgomery, Reporter
Class of 2026
I have always had a passion for writing and telling stories, and I am so excited to be working on press this year! When I’m not writing, I love watching my favorite shows, watching all the horror movies in existence, reading books, listening to music, and spending time with my friends and family.

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