Signature Theatre playwright Norman Allen has taken Dickens's A Christmas Carol, updated it to 1911 New York City, illustrated it with ragtime-era songs, and re-christened it The Christmas Carol Rag. The result is underwhelming.
The talented Donna Migliaccio puts an appropriately stoic face on the wealthy sweatshop owner Evelyn Scrooge, but is burdened with Allen's excessively bittersweet spin on Scrooge's redemption after visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past (Chyrstyna Dail), Present (Eleasha Gamble) and Future (Dana Krueger). Will Gartshore adds a nice dramatic and vocal presence as Scrooge's nephew Fred, but Dail and Gamble pale next to Migliaccio in overly precious characterizations, while Krueger, who also portrays the ghost of Scrooge's business partner Janet Marley, gets more musical responsibility than she can adequately support.
Wendell Jordan also flounders vocally as Bob Cratchit, though Rachel Gardner fares better as Cratchit's wife Anne, and better still in some sweet moments in her other role of Young Scrooge, romanced by Tim Fezziwig, also well-handled by Gartshore.
Through Dec. 22 at Signature, 3806 S. Four Mile Run Dr. in Arlington. Tickets are $20 to $38. Call 703-218-6500. Visit www.sig-online.org.