Wednesday, November 26, 2008
A Christmas Carol is a hauntingly good holiday show
by Kathleen Szmit
There are many popular Christmas stories, but none more beloved, perhaps, than Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
It wouldn’t be a proper holiday without a telling of the timeless classic in which miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge receives redemption from his wicked ways through the lessons learned during visits with three powerful spirits.
This time the Barnstable High School Drama Club takes on the task, and masterfully so, offering an engaging, and at times stunning version of A Christmas Carol.
In keeping with his desire to put as many fine actors onstage as possible, director John Sullivan has again double-cast the show. While not a surprise to devoted Club fans, what was a surprise to me was having a woman cast as Scrooge.
Having spent years taking in various versions of the Dickens drama, I don’t recall ever seeing Scrooge played as a woman, and I was immediately intrigued.
Caitlin Gardipe was fantastic, seamlessly transforming Scrooge from a curmudgeonly miser into a wretched shrew. The gender change offered a refreshing take on the tale, and clever changes to parts of the storyline made it all the more believable.
As Scrooge attempted to set to bed on that cold Christmas eve, the routine she’d clung to for far too long was suddenly rocked by none other than Jacob Marley, or rather, his ghost, come back to haunt her and set her straight.
Shane Harris as Marley was spectacular. From the chains clanking about him, to his ghastly face and ominous tone, he was a truly eerie sight, becoming even more frightful when he suddenly flew mightily above Scrooge’s head in a fit of anger, special effects thanks to Flying by Foy.
Then came the spirits. On this night Christmas Past was portrayed by Emma Charpentier, Christmas Present by Tom Myers, and Christmas Future by Jason Pacella.
Charpentier, adorned in festive holiday crimson with a halo of holly and ivy, was charming and thoughtful as she took Scrooge on her journey back in time, reminding her of what a lighthearted girl she had once been.
Resplendent in green velvet and majestically tall thanks to skilled stilt walking, Myer cast an imposing figure as Christmas Present, delivering his lines such that it was not only Scrooge who snapped to attention in his presence.
The most frightening and powerful of all of the spirits, however, was also the most silent. Pacella, as Future, spoke no words. Suspended high above the stage and clad in flowing black robes, Pacella simply pointed out Scrooge’s grim future with skeletal hands.
Because the tale is familiar, everyone expects Scrooge’s profound personality change in the end, but it was the little touches that made the journey within the BHS show so entertaining.
Look for several flying characters, an utterly adorable Tiny Tim, superbly played by young Austin Benevides, falling snow, and a chillingly creepy scene following the visit of Christmas Present.
What made this show even more stunning are the amazing sets. While some were rented, such as a beautifully painted backdrop, designer Ethan Brown created much of the set.
With help from a slew of builders including stage manager Evan Hausmann, Dickens’ 1800s London came to life. Lighting from Steve Bearse, Tristan O’Toole and Brittany Myers greatly enhanced each scene.
Though not a musical, the show did include several holiday carols with accompaniment from musical director Michael Gross and musicians Carolyn Kunze, Larry Chaplan, Dan LePage, Al Orlando, and Jarrod Henly.
Limited space prevents me from mentioning everyone onstage and off who was integral to the success of the show, but it was obvious that this team put in great effort to create a dynamic and exciting play.
The holidays are upon us. If you need a little lift, A Christmas Carol will put you right in the spirit.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol will be performed by the Barnstable High School Drama Club Nov. 28 and 29 at 7 p.m., and Nov. 29 and 30 at 2 p.m. All tickets are $10. For more information and to make reservations, call the BHSDC at 508-771-6246.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
One thing the Drama Club has learned is how to make ghosts appear on the stage Jacob Marley (Shane Harris) and The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (Cait Gardipe) are the latest ghosts to perform on the BHS stage.
Posted by bhsdc at 8:59 PM