A Christmas Carol

At a time when U.S. citizens, for the first time since the late '60's, voted with their feet regarding the mass injustices perpetrated by the corporate banking pyramid scheme that controls their government, it's only fitting that we revisit Charles Dickens' classic literary critique of materialism through the lens of the Occupy Wall Street movement (OWS).

There is a reason that OWS began on Wall Street, because that is where many of the "too big to fail" banks that own the United States Federal Reserve System are located. It is through this control of the money creation process that the financiers who own these banks have gained control over corporations, governments, military and intelligence services, media, and voting machines.

Philip Pleasants as Ebenezer Scrooge
Philip Pleasants
as Ebenezer Scrooge
Photo: Terry Shapiro
It was no different in Dickens' day, though fewer people understood the process whereby most human beings had been disenfrachised of their basic rights. Dickens epitomized the attitude of the financiers in Ebenezer Scrooge, who has since become one of the most famous characters in world literature.

Based on Dickens' descriptions, Scrooge is a professional usurer, who makes his living by charging interest on money loaned to people of little means. There is a reason that all the spiritual masters have taught that usury is morally bankrupt: in the act of charging interest on money that was created, originally, from labor, the value of money (converted from a means of accounting to a store of value) is inflated through compounding charges, while labor is simultaneously deflated. In other words, interest puts an abstraction—capital—above human beings. That is what capitalism means. That's why things that are important to human beings—our ecosystem, our social system, etc.—are subordinated to profit, because capital is at the center of our current system. This also explains why corporations have usurped personhood from human beings.

Philip Pleasants as Ebenezer Scrooge and Stephanie Cozart as Ghost of Christmas Past
Philip Pleasants as Ebenezer Scrooge
and Stephanie Cozart as Ghost of Christmas Past
Photo: Terry Shapiro
Given the implications of such a devolved system, how is it that an insider as dastardly as Scrooge could ever redeem himself; after all, this is the fellow who'd rather see the poor die, to "decrease the surplus population," than give a half pence to charity. Well, it turns out that there is a spark of light in even the worst of us, which makes perfect sense given that everything in the 4-dimensional scheme of things is comprised of light. Of course, some folks learn to suppress their light until, eventually, they succumb to the dark side; but not so Scrooge.

With the help of another masterful performance by Philip Pleasants (Scrooge), Dickens show us that the root of Scrooge's irascibleness is a sense of deprivation that began in childhood, followed by a subsequent focus on wealth as a young man, which morphed into an obsession that grew into miserliness.

Charlie Korman as Tiny Time and Jeff Cribbs as Bob Cratchit
Charlie Korman as Tiny Time
and Jeff Cribbs as Bob Cratchit
Photo: Terry Shapiro
Pleasants has a way of holding Scrooge's curmudgeonliness and anger just short of caricature, which allows us to see the hurt boy inside of the avaricious old man. This makes for some good comedy, but more importantly, it creates the space for a believable transformation that delivers a wallop of a catharsis. Amazing grace! If Scrooge can see the light, maybe there's hope for the .00001% that control the world's central banks and the corporate empire that stems from this private monopoly over money.

Pleasants is supported by a vast and talented ensemble—under the direction of Bruce K. Sevy—including an array incredible voices, highlighted in the period carols sprinkled throughout this adaptation by Richard Hellesen, with music by David de Berry. Douglas Harmsen's irrepressively cheery Fred, Jeff Cribbs' compassionate Bob Cratchit, and Renée Brna's clear-hearted Belle provide telling counterpoints to Pleasants' irascible Scrooge.

Stephanie Cozart as the Ghost of Christmas Past
Stephanie Cozart as the
Ghost of Christmas Past
Photo: Terry Shapiro
This is a ghost story, of course, and these spirits are something: Mike Hartman's tortured and repentent Ghost of Jacob Marley; Stephanie Cozart's regal and illuminating Ghost of Christmas Past; Harvy Blanks' jovial, yet commanding Ghost of Christmas Present; and Zachary Andrew's silent and ominous presence as Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

The merriment is epitomized in a hilarious jig by Fezziwig (Michael Fitzpatrick) and Mrs. Fezziwig (Leslie O'Carroll), who tops it off with an over-the-top aria. Costume designer Kevin Copenhaver's incredible fabrics and layers, for the well-heeled as well as the poor and destitute, plus Christine Rowan's sublime choreography and an evocative set by Vicki Smith, make for a colorful and sweeping pageant.

The Denver Center Theatre Company's production of A Christmas Carol runs through December 24th. For tickets: 303-893-4100 or

Bob Bows


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