One-woman rendition of ‘A Christmas Carol’ challenges audiences beyond enlivening seasonal spirit

A fifth-grader’s perspective…

I really liked the play. I invited my friend and when the Marley ghost and the future ghost came, we were so scared. At first, I didn’t like being scared, but we were quickly able to laugh about it.


Tempe Center for the Arts is full of Christmas spirit for both of its seasonal productions.

I will say, Katie McFadzen did act good, but I think it would be better if there were more people to play the characters in the play.

On scenery… The lamps and wreaths were really pretty — I really liked that. The trees were cool. Other than that, I loved it.

A mom’s perspective…

It providentially became a “Girl’s Night Out” when we saw “A Christmas Carol” at Tempe Center for the Arts, which is home stage for Childsplay Theatre. My daughter and I went because she loves the story. Believe it or not, she is the one who introduced it to me when we saw some area high schoolers enact their version in 2015.

_MG_2061.JPGRoughly 24 months later, it just so happened that the two guests we brought along to Childsplay’s version were also female — a classmate and her mom. It was kind of fitting since the lead actor — and only actor on the playbill — was female as well. Katie McFadzen resurrected her role as every character in the script for “A Christmas Carol”. That is most likely why Childsplay suggests a slightly older audience for this production. It requires somewhat careful listening and few distractions to fully appreciate the span of characters one person can portray within an 80-minute script.

I’d say, feel free to grab a ticket for Childsplay’s production of “A Christmas Carol” if you:

  • Plan to see it as an adult — a few key women seemed to chuckle the most throughout the performance we attended.
  • Have a kid, we’d say 10 and up — Childsplay says 9 — who can handle a few slightly scary scenes, especially involving Marley’s ghost. Refer to my fifth-grader’s review above.
  • Can accept some artistic decisions like having a female play Scrooge — and that same actress portray every other character in a monologue type fashion — plus be okay with minimal props/scenery, no intermission, etc.
  • Want to encourage yourself or your youngster to think beyond the play and apply its theme to their own outlook on life. Childsplay provides a “Before You See the Show” guide as well as discussion questions for the ride home on your way out of the theater plus quick activities in the lobby to keep your mind pondering the theme. McFadzen herself helps write the Resource Guides connected to Childsplay productions.


There’s also a large display encouraging you to think about a “big problem” of today and consider how to make the world a better place. The display further encourages you to “Give the Best of Yourself” with concrete ideas on how to do so on your own or through Valley organizations. Right next to it, you might find a representative from Lost Our Home Pet Rescue, who supports pets and their parents in crisis. Feel free to bring an item to leave with them.


Other reasons to see Childsplay’s version of “A Christmas Carol” are if you:

  • Can be flexible if the 10-minute Q&A Childsplay is often known for, and is listed in the program, does not occur.
  • Have seen or plan to see “The Man Who Invented Christmas” at the movie theater and want to see “A Christmas Carol” with a renewed perspective. (If necessary, check out the scene-by-scene guide for its appropriateness for kids).
  • Want to challenge yourself or your younger theater patron to compare/contrast Childsplay’s version with one you’ve seen in the past or one of the four other “A Christmas Carol” productions currently on stage at as many theaters across the Valley. My fifth-grader and I were able to compare Childsplay’s version with that high school production we saw in 2015. She also astutely recalled several lines from the play when watching Jim Carrey’s movie version 24 hours after seeing the Childsplay performance.

…What I’m curious about now, is how Childsplay’s version compares to “The Smurfs” version we noticed for sale at a grocery store a couple of days later.



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