Don't Miss Tamiko Robinson in SistaStyle's Christmas Carol



What, another Christmas Carol? Just give me a Christmas goose and be done with it. But in this week's Scene, Martin Brady says Mary McCallum's bright reworking for SistaStyle Productions at the Darkhorse Theater on Charlotte finds something new in those well-rattled chains:

The Scrooge/Marley business establishment is a pawn shop, and its ruthless proprietor, Eberta Scrooge, is an African-American businesswoman, a staunch member of the NRA and a committed Republican who refuses to remove the "Romney for President" placard from her shop window.

Eberta is all about money, so it's no surprise when her employee, Bob Cratchet, lets it be known that his job does not include health insurance, and hence his son Tiny Tim's surgery has to be put off. Meanwhile, the Cratchet kids hang out on the street break-dancing for tips.

After various incidents where Eberta castigates the neighborhood poor folk, her niece comes around to invite her to Christmas dinner, but that's a no-go. Instead, Eberta, shotgun in hand, keeps watch over her store Christmas Eve, whereupon the expected ghosts show up to tap into her nostalgic feelings, evoke the memory of her past love, and open her heart to the spirit of the season.

Like many a grassroots production, this one is devoid of elaborate sets or high-tech glitz. There are no misty vapors, echoing voices or spooky apparitions here.

But McCallum's script begins with a palpable darkness that transforms into lightness and laughter, and she has some knowing fun with the Obama-vs.-Romney debate (including a surprise appearance by Michelle Obama herself). There are also a few loosely staged musical numbers featuring Christmas pop tunes.

Of course, to pull off A Christmas Carol without the technological bells and whistles, you need an ace Scrooge, and the always excellent Tamiko Robinson is fabulous, ranging from loud, ornery and cruel to tender, meek and humbled.

Shawn Whitsell, LaToya Gardner and Shelena Walden, among others, provide good support. The Cratchet kids are charmingly portrayed by Carmen Ridley, Cayla Ridley, Isabella Jackson and Micah Robinson.

This is your last chance to catch the production, through tomorrow night. Tickets are $12 and available here, along with show times and other information.

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