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A Christmas Carol

a Holiday Show
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA CHILDREN MUSICAL
by Charles Dickens, adapted by Wally Hinds

COMPANY : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
VENUE : Kudzu Playhouse [WEBSITE]
ID# 3589

SHOWING : November 27, 2009 - December 24, 2009

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Charles Dickens shows us Ebenezer Scrooge as he falls asleep in his dingy, cold quarters on Christmas Eve. The old miser is visited by three ghosts, each revealing to Scrooge the wrong doings of his and what will happen if he does not change his ways.

This traditional holiday classic for the whole family is filled with old English Christmas Carols guaranteed to fill you with the Christmas spirit and warm your heart.

See Brink Miller in his 15th as Ebenezer Scrooge. A Roswell tradition since 1991.

Performing November 27 through December 24 on Thursdays, Fridays & Saturdays at 8:00 pm and Saturdays & Sundays at 3:00 pm.

Additional performances on Tuesday, December 22 at 8:00 pm, Wednesday, December 23 at 8:00 pm & Thursday, December 24 at 3:00 pm.

For information or reservations, call Kudzu at 770-594-1020 or visit www.kudzuplayhouse.org.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Wally Hinds
Choral Direction Barbara Moras
Assistant Director Judy Zuber
Assistant Director Brad Zuber
Scenic Design Wally Hinds
Musical Direction and Accompaniment Don Keel
Costume Design Ellen Keel
Lighting Designer/Scenic Artist David Shelton
Stage Manager Jillian Wilson
Little Fan/Carol Cratchit Clee Alexander
Iris Fezziwig/Martha Cratchit Haley Ballard
Peter Cratchit Willie Ballard
Topper Jason Byrd
Orphan Lizzie Clay
Fred/Jacob Marley/Undertaker Philip Covin
Orphan/Understudy - Young Eben Henry Flack
Penelope Fezziwig/Belinda Cratchit Miranda Flack
Tiny Tim Parker Foles
Fezziwig/Christmas Present/Poulterer Jerry Harlow
Mrs. Fezziwig Katy Harlow
Patience/Fezziwig Daughter Sadie Harlow
Jacob Marley Harold Henry
Young Scrooge/Christmas Future Richard Henry
Old Joe/Beggar Wally Hinds
Bob Cratchit Scott Kale
Doug Cratchit Bryan Keel
Solicitor #1 Don Keel
Laundress Ellen Keel
Christmas Past/Sarah Katie Keel
Townsperson Fallon Keel
Charwoman/Alice Colleen Kilts
Christmas Past/Mimsi Lizzie Kraich
Young Eben/Poulter Boy Andrew Kraich
Narrator Roy Lantz
Orphanage Owner Taylor Manigoult
Want/Orphan Patrick Marks
Alice Mary McCullough
Ebenezer Scrooge Brink Miller
Ignorance/Orphan Emma Moore
Laundress Lindsay Olson
Charwoman/Mimsi Karen Rooker
Dick Wilkins/Daniel Kevin Schaefer
Solicitor #2 / Bearer of Ring Michael Silverman
Belle/Rowena Jami Terracino
Young Scrooge/Fred Luke Tieslau
Belle/Rowena Lauren Wallon
Mrs. Cratchit Dani Zuber
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

[REVIEW THIS PRODUCTION]

Stretching it Out
by Dedalus
Friday, December 18, 2009
3.0
(Note: This Review first appeared on AtlantaTheaterBuzz.com

Perhaps it’s inappropriate to include a community theatre “Carol” in an article praising (for the most part) a number of professional productions. On the other hand, Dickens himself took great pleasure in “amateur theatrics,” so it could also be argued that it would be inappropriate to NOT include such a production.

And, indeed, Kudzu Playhouse’s adaption has a lot to recommend it, including a nicely conceptualized set, a beautifully voice-blended troupe of carolers, a number of performances that hold up well, and a truly surprising whiz-bang tech gimmick to usher in the Ghost of Christmas Present.

On the other hand, my quibbles with the production can be summarized in just a few words – pace, pace, and pace. Clocking in at over 2½ hours, this production is filled with padding that does nothing but stretch out the story without adding anything of plot or emotional depth. And, to my mind, this is a flaw that threatens to overpower all of the really good stuff that is there to see.

It shames me to say that, as big a fan I am of Dickens and this story, it has been many years since I’ve read the original work (a situation I guarantee will be remedied before too many more days has passed), so my reaction is no doubt more influenced by other adaptations on display than by Dickens’ original work. That being said, Dickens was notoriously wordy (he was, after all, paid by the word) and tended to fill his novels and stories with digressions and repetitions and wildly over-done descriptions and mood-sequences. In fact, the biggest challenge to any adapter of Dickens is resisting the urge to treat “every word as sacred,” and to be merciless in the editing process. (An interesting digression – Dickens’s own “public performance” prompt book for “Carol” shows he was himself ruthless in pruning his text.)

All this is preface to my confessing that I wasn’t sure if a lot of the “added stuff” was there in the original, or if it was added by adapter Wally Hinds. All the scenes contain repetitive and unnecessary sequences that add noting. As an example, during the Christmas Present Fred scene, rather than being given the usual “It’s Uncle Scrooge” charade, we’re also given a preliminary charade that adds nothing but time to the scene.

As good as they are, the Carolers are also used a little more than is helpful, presumably to cover scene changes. While I thoroughly approve of (and applaud) the musical digressions in the various “Carols” around town, I believe they work best as transitions, introductions, “backgrounds,” and mood-setters. Putting them in the middle of scenes tends to break the flow of the story, and make it actually seem longer than its running time. As an example, several “Carol” breaks interrupt the Christmas Present sequence. If “cover” is needed for scene shifts within longer sequences, perhaps different staging choices would have been more appropriate.

Two other songs interrupted the show, giving it a “semi-musical” feel, but I didn’t find either of them added more than another delay to the story. Like the carols, though, they were nicely performed, and would work in a more “concert” setting. It should be noted that this production is not that much longer than the Alliance’s. There, however, the added material filled in a few gaps in the story (Scrooge and Marley’s meeting, the fates of the Fezziwigs and Belle), and the music were integral parts of the show rather than “scene change cover.”

All this being said, I really did like the look and design of the production. The set was essentially a crowded brick street, segments of which would rotate to reveal interiors and other settings. It was perhaps a misstep to place Scrooge’s bedchambers on a second floor – no doubt a source for some of the long changes giving the actors time to climb down – it was nevertheless a good look and emphasized the cramped conditions of Victorian London.

Costuming too added to the look of the show, nicely recalling all the generations of “Carols” and Scrooges and Ghosts (oh my!) we have come to expect. Lighting stayed in the blue and amber ranges, beautifully evoking the candle-lit nighttime of a pre-incandescent city. And the electronic imagery leading into the “Christmas Present” segments worked beautifully – even if it seems an odd choice when you stop to think about it.

As to the performances, I liked Roy Lantz’ narrator (and wish he was given more to do), Scott Kale’s Bob Cratchit, and Jami Terracino’s winsome Belle. In the central role of Scrooge, Brink Miller hit all the right notes, scowling and humbugging through the first half, and joyfully celebrating at the end. Too often, community theaters tend to fall back on a “by-the-numbers” been-there seen-that Scrooge, but Mr. Brink brought some individuality to the part, keeping the character fresh and alive for this telling.

In the final analysis, then, this show has a lot to recommend it. It has a very VERY large cast, is totally family-friendly, and has been a Kudzu holiday mainstay for many years. My own daughter really enjoyed it, even after seeing the Alliance’s Big-Budget version two nights before.

Perhaps my quibbles rise from knowing the story too well. But I still can’t help thinking this adaptation deserves a few more trips through the word processer.

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


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