Few literary works can claim as much retelling and reimagining as Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. On film it's been immortalized by the likes of Mickey and company in the 1983 Disney animated version and in the 1988 dramedy Scrooged starring Bill Murray. On stage it's been performed for audiences the world over--modernized in some adaptations, modified for youngsters in others.

In Houston, Michael Wilson's classical stage adaption has been enchanting audiences at Alley Theatre for many holiday seasons. Just as the Sugarplum Fairy can be counted on to dance the Nutcracker and the Christmas tree to light up the park at City Hall, so too local theatergoers can rely on Jeffrey Bean's crotchety Ebenezer Scrooge.

Running the entirety of the holiday season, A Christmas Carol: A Story of Christmas takes audiences on a whimsical journey to 19th Century England. Things aren't quite so merry on Christmas Eve for Mr. Scrooge and those around him. Debts are called in, pay is given stingily and the cheer of the season is nowhere to be found.

In this work, Dickens was consumed by the concepts of charity and goodwill, and perhaps also good versus evil. Not that we are meant to see Scrooge as evil, but rather that the forces at work inside him-greed, cruelty and spite-are preventing him from actually living. We learn through his encounter with the Ghost of Christmas Past the slow progression that led him to his sad state.  We see how becoming consumed with money and wealth can make a person lose sight of the truly important things. Dickens' tale is as true and relatable today as it was when he penned it in 1843.

Alley's staging is simple yet impressive, with a stable primary setting embellished by moving props and changing backdrops. Having performed the part for years, Bean's portrayal of Scrooge is masterful, crafting a character that audiences will abhor and empathize with at the same time. Other standouts include John Felch as both Mrs. Dilber and Jacob Marley who brings levity and a bit of sass to the stage. A cadre of skeletal characters from England's past who met untimely deaths provide a dancing chorus of sorts. Also striking is Philip Lehl's portrayal of Bob Cratchit, a strong yet pitiable man who still looks for the good in all people and things.

Alley Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol runs through Dec. 24. Click here for tickets.