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A Country Christmas Carol
a Musical Comedy
CATEGORY : COMEDY DRAMA CHILDREN
by Book by Ron Kaehler, Music by Albert Evans, Lyrics by Albert Evans and Ron Kaehler

COMPANY : Centerstage North Theatre [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The Art Place - Mountain View
ID# 3615

SHOWING : December 10, 2010 - December 19, 2010

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

Seasons greetings from Marley County, U.S.A., where folks don't have a whole lot, but where everybody's doing what they can to make the Christmas holiday crackle. Except for one mean and miserly old coot that somehow misses the whole point. Ring a bell? It's Dickens' classic, dusted off and gussied up in a new country-western musical version. A Country Christmas Carol is ideal family holiday fare fresh, engaging, often hilarious, and genuinely moving. It's a timeless tale of redemption and reunion, community and family, the kind of story that was made for country music. The score would make Patsy Cline proud, with show stopping ballads to snappy two-steps, sung by a feisty bunch who deal head-on with life's joys and heartaches. All the characters are here with some nifty variations: Banker Scrooge, the man with the worst case of Christmas blues ever; his secretary Bobbie Jo Cratchit, a young widow with two small children, Jane and Tim; his lovable ne'er-do-well nephew Dwight; Lavinia, a good-ol'-girl with big hair and an even bigger heart; plus some decidedly Country Christmas spirits. This is a down-home pleasure from start to finish


CAST & CREW LIST
Music Director Mandy Kirkpatrick
Director Sarah Mitchell
Girl Fanny Molly Angle
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come Kathy Armbrester
Boy Eb/Clerk Austin Barner
Eb Scrooge Pete Borden
Jane Cratchit Rose Clipson
Doris Peach Cathy Clipson
Charley/Conductor/Delbert/Xmas Present Scott Fant
Tim Cratchit Grier Friedman
Willy Mae Nanette Harris
Ghost of Christmas Past Martha Kennedy
Scrooge's Stepmother/Businesswoman/Choir Arlene McMillian
Choir/Nurse/Clerk Cinda O\'Keefe
Choir/Dick Daniel O\'Keefe
Belle Shaillie Pattillo
Fanny/Linda Lee Kimberly Petty
Bobbie Jo Cratchit Julie Resh
Ghost of Jacob Marley Murray Sarkin
Dwight Scrooge/Young Eb Mark W. Schroeder
Lavinia Mylane Wilson
Radio Man John Wilson
Click to Submit Cast & Crew Info for this production
REVIEWS

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Humbug, Y'All!
by Dedalus
Monday, December 27, 2010
3.5
Eb Scrooge is on a rampage. His no-good nephew Dwight is drinking himself into a shabby middle-age, his secretary, single mom Bobbie Jo Cratchit is thinking more about her kids than his business, and the honky-tonk downstairs won’t give him a minute’s peace, what with all that durn carolin’ and racket and Holiday fuss! What the Dickens is he supposed to do when those spirits won’t even let him get a good night’s sleep?

Yes, y’all, it’s another visit to Scroogeville, this time with a bit of a Texas Twang and a country twist. CenterStage North has recently closed down its foray into holiday theatre with this pleasant musical interlude. Though it may be too little too late to say it now, this was a pleasant little musical diversion centered by three outstanding performances and an intriguing use of the wide and shallow Marietta Art Place Black Box theatre.

Pete Borden (**) was born to play Scrooge, and not just any Scrooge, THIS Scrooge. He bellows, he blusters, he drawls, he rules his roost with a vengeance, and he faces his past with a courage that can be downright moving at times. If he talks his songs rather than sings them, well, what else would Scrooge do?

Every bit his match was Julie Resh as Bobbie Jo Cratchit. Spunky and sassy, she also sings like an angel, and, in a moving scene by her son’s grave (the Christmas yet-to-come sequence, I reckon), takes aim at our heartstrings and hits the bull’s-eye. As Dwight (and young Eb), Mark Schroeder strums and staggers and sings and kvetches and is a nice comic foil for the others. I’ve reached the conclusion that Mr. Schroeder improves any production he’s part of, and I give a not-so-silent cheer every time I see his name in the program.

If the production also had a few off-key singers, a few missed opportunity moments, well, I found myself forgiving them every time the three main characters took the stage. If some of the staging ignored the awful sight lines provided by the café-style seating (Eb’s sister’s death scene especially), it was more than made up for by the overall design – a set that wrapped around the audience like a flannel Snuggie, and made the scene transitions flow as easily as Lone Star from a tap. Director Sarah Mitchell wrangled her large cast nicely, and made the who thing taste as sweet as Texas Barbecue.

And the script worked on almost every level. I liked how the authors (Ron Kaehler and Albert Evans) made this quintessentially British (and Victorian) story fit seamlessly into a Texas town, how they fleshed out some of the “Christmas Past” sequences (particularly Sister Fanny and her “surprise” baby), how making Cratchit a single Mom should have been done long ago. If I found some of the songs a little too intrusive and “Country Bland,” well, they certainly enhanced the mood of the piece, and brought out thoughts of smoky honky-tonks, well-decorated trailer parks, and small-town holidays.

So, it’s a mite too late to catch this particular trip to Marley County, but hopefully, you’ll get an opportunity to go back during another Christmas yet to come.

And that ain’t no humbug, y’all!

-- Brad Rudy (BKRudy@aol.com)


(**) BIAS ALERT: Mr. Borden is very close friend of mine with whom I worked this year in two other productions.

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