What made Ebenezer Scrooge such a miserable old coot? Adapter-director Christina Harris elaborates on this aspect of Dickens' cautionary tale in Sierra Madre Playhouse's amiable musical production of A Christmas Carol, embellished with songs and upbeat ensemble dancing. Scott Harris portrays the tight-fisted miser as less an icy capitalist than a bad-tempered old man with chronic indigestion (my take). The classic narrative involving Jacob Marley (Karl Maschek) and the ghosts (Kelly Kitko, Hector S. Quintana and Tim Stafford as Christmases Past, Present and Future, respectively) unwinds with enough technical flair and professional skill to preserve one's attention, despite the story's umpteenth retelling. The disciplined ensemble includes teens and children, with the youngsters performing adeptly and — speaking of the 8- and 10-year-olds — remarkably on cue, surely a directorial coup. Anthony Bravo's soft-spoken Bob Cratchit and his family, including an endearing Amelia Grace as Tiny Tim, furnish an apt contrast with the story's fantastical characters, all underscored by Jeremy Pivnick's lighting, John Zalewski's sound and Liz Peterson's lively costumes. Still, some of the backstory and drawing room scenes need pruning, and not all the group vocals are quite on the mark.

Fridays, 8 p.m.; Saturdays, 8 p.m.; Sundays, 2:30 p.m.; Sun., Dec. 15, 7 p.m.; Wed., Dec. 18, 8 p.m.; Thu., Dec. 19, 8 p.m.; Mon., Dec. 23, 8 p.m. Starts: Nov. 29. Continues through Dec. 22, 2013

LA Weekly