“A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol” strikes gold with Yuletide audiences- By Bob Valade

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On opening night (Nov. 25), the Thin Air Theatre Company delivered a heartwarming and often hilarious performance of Chris Ambrister and Chris Sorensen’s, “A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol.”

Their creative twist on the Dickens classic is every bit as powerful set in Victorian Cripple Creek as the original drama location in Victorian England. The sold out crowd of young and old were captivated and involved for the entirety of the nearly two and a half hour performance.

In this Cripple Creek version of the classic tale, Scrooge becomes a miserly businessman named Zachariah Gooch, who has interactions with many familiar characters. The ghosts are combined into the ghost of the prospector who first discovered gold near Cripple Creek, Bob Womack. The Womack character is assigned to save Gooch’s soul by the ghost of another Cripple Creek legend, Winfield Stratton. This interaction delightfully borrows from “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

The talented professional cast of actors saw another dominant performance from Mel Moser as Zachariah Gooch with great onstage chemistry between Samantha A. Matthews (Doc Susie) and Stephen James Potter (Thomas Crocket). JT Rider tugs at your heartstrings as, Fergus, the conscience of the show. The pros were complimented by a strong local cast of community actors who showed off impressive dance and acting skills of their own. The mood of the entire performance is expertly set by the very talented pianist, James Mablin.

The cast may have stolen their own show with a hilarious 25 minute Olio, which immediately followed the play. In the Olio we see a hilarious Jack Frost (JT Rider) freeze Santa’s (Mel Moser) Christmas cheer with the cast joking, dancing and singing it back. Again here we are treated to the talent and onstage chemistry of Matthews and Potter now playing Santa’s elves, Holly and Jolly. The cast and crew show off their creativity in a joyful romp with expertly delivered dance numbers and original parodies of pop songs from Wham and MC Hammer.

This wonderful family show will leave a lasting impression on young and old alike. At the post-play reception on opening night, there were complimentary confections and fruit salad provided in the lobby. At the gathering audience members from grandparents to pre-teens could be heard enthusiastically discussing their favorite moments of the evening. This two and a half hour delight is certain to become a cherished holiday memory for those who partake.

“A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol will play at the Butte Theater from now through Dec. 31. Performances are set for Thursday through Sunday, with the evening shows scheduled at 7 p.m., Thursday through Saturday. Matinees, meanwhile will occur on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. For more information, visit buttetheater.com or call 689-3247.