A Christmas Carol
published: Fri, 6-Feb-2004 | updated: Wed, 4-Jan-2017
Marley's Ghost and Narrator in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Murray Ross, for Theatreworks at the Dwire Theater. Directed by Murray Ross. December 1995.
Every year in those days, Theatreworks used to put on A Christmas Carol in December. Bob Pinney would always play Scrooge (and every well too, by the way). This particular year, the thing that made the production different was that the vast majority of the actors were children or teenagers, with only 3 or 4 adults. I was one of the adults, playing Marley in grey and chains, and then, later on in the performance, one of the narrators.
It was quite fun playing Marley. I would be on this turntable off- stage, and then when it was time for me to come on, the turntable would be rotated and I'd appear through the mist produced by the fog machine until I confronted Scrooge. After my bit I would be rotated off again. In essence, as Marley, I didn't have to move my feet at all. I was dressed in grey rags with grey cobwebs and grey chains wrapped around me. A horrific ghost.
As narrator I was costumed as a Victorian gentleman, black suit and top hat, reading from an open book.
The production was quite fun to do. The kids did really well, especially those with main parts like the Cratchits. The audiences, even those that didn't just comprise the parents of said kids, really liked it and, being as it was in Dwire Theater, they were seated pretty much all round the stage.
|Fezziwig Daughter, Caroler, Niece's Sister||Lacy Abernathy-Lansford|
|Belle, Narrator||Mim Ari|
|Fezziwig Daughter||Nisa Ari|
|Ghost of Christmas Present, Narrator||Michael S. Borghi|
|Jacob Marley, Narrator||Julian Bucknall|
|Mrs. Cratchit||Kirstin Elgin|
|Caroler, Londoner, Baker, Storybook Character||Andrew Franklin|
|Fred - Scrooge's Nephew||Charles Fussman|
|Undertaker, Beggar, Poulterer, Young Scrooge||Kinch Glisson|
|Boy Scrooge, Dancing Guest, Turkey Boy||Zach Glueckert|
|Sultan's Groom, Narrator, Dick Wilkins, Londoner||Gabe Grier|
|Fezziwig, Old Joe, Ali Baba||Mel Grier|
|Ghost of Christmas Past, Martha Cratchit||Shanta Hejmadi|
|Gentleman, Orson the Wild Brother, Londoner||Jim Higgins|
|Gentleman, Valentine, Londoner, Beggar||Jon Higgins|
|Little Cratchit, Street Kid||Sam Jeffery|
|Mrs. Fezziwig, Caroler, Niece's Sister||Rachel Kirchmann|
|Beggar, Want, Londoner||Juliana Lansford|
|Caroler Boy, Ignorance||Seth Lee|
|Maid, Fezziwig Daughter||Jenny Lowrey|
|Tiny Tim Cratchit||Colin McCall|
|Charwoman, Beggar, Londoner||Lydia Melancon|
|Ebenezer Scrooge||Bob Pinney|
|Little Fan, Littie Cratchit, Narrator||Emily Sawyer|
|Old Joe's Daughter, Beggar||Elisabeth Schley|
|Caroler, Niece's Sister, Narrator||Heidi Schmidt|
|Caroler, Narrator||Tom Spiers|
|Belinda Cratchit||Tommi Sue Spiers|
|Fred's Wife, Cook, Laundress||Sarah Tacey|
|Peter Cratchit||Joseph Taylor|
|Bob Cratchit||Jason Veasey|
|Young Man Scrooge, Topper, Ghost of Christmas Future||Matthew Ward|
Review from the Gazette Telegraph
Kids restore innocence to 'Christmas Carol'
It's the first rule of being a critic: Never slam kids.
So I was understandably nervous going into Theatreworks new production of Charles Dickens' classic "A Christmas Carol," which features children in most of the roles. Without the cheap shots that are part and parcel of a critic's vocabulary, I feared I'd be reduced to saying how adorable little so-and-so was (even though she giggled throughout her scene and tripped going offstage).
In fact, this production neither plays up its cuteness nor begs for any cheap shots. Director Murray Ross' object was to strip the veneer of familiarity from Dickens' story and restore its innocence by enlisting the innocent to tell it.
Except for a miscalculated introduction (for some reason Ross thinks he has to prepare us for the slew of children), this "Christmas Carol" sparkles from its icy start to its genuinely moving end.
Sure, some of the cues could be tighter, and not all the characterizations are as sharp as you'd get with adults. But theater (like any art) isn't necessarily rendered better by being rendered slicker. One goal of a performance is to engage an audience's attention, and the children do that. The words may not be as clear, but we compensate by listening more intently.
The story is too familiar to recount (though I was again struck by the beauty of Dickens' language, which Ross retains as much as possible). Scrooge reforms in the first half-hour. The remainder of the story is for our edification, not his. This isn't the dramatic misstep it seems to be, but a reflection of Dickens' view of good and evil: evil is good gone wrong.
Of course, the best actors are adults. There's never been a drier, emptier Scrooge than Bob Pinney at the beginning of this play. He lives in "a world of fools, who find themselves a year older but not an hour richer." At the end he marvelously portrays someone who hasn't been happy in so long that he's not sure how to express it. Julian Bucknall brings a sense of desperate suffering to Marley's ghost. Michael Borghi's Ghost of Christmas Present is joyful and expansive.
But there are standouts among the children, too, especially Mim Ari, who's heartbreaking as Belle, Scrooge's lost betrothed, and Kirstin Elgin as the outspoken Mrs. Cratchit.
Among the teen-age performers, Jason Veasey is an earnest Bob Cratchit, and Charles Fussman has a likeable, warm presence as Fred, though his diction is more educated than Dickens' writing suggests it should be.
Despite the children, this is no grade-school production. The entire Theatreworks apparatus is involved in the show, and has provided a wonderful set (enlargements of prints by Gustav Dore, showing a dark, congested city that threatens to engulf its inhabitants); some delightfully rambunctious choreography by Ava Heinrichsdorff and Linda Kobman-Grabelle for the Fezziwigs' dance; effective lighting by Tom McElroy; and some great costumes by Betty Ross - especially for the tiny "gentlemen" who solicit Scrooge's charity.
(c) Gazette Telegraph 1995