Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Christmas Carol"

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"What Happened in Boston, Willie"


entire contents copyright 2008 by Tony Annicone

"A Christmas Carol"

Reviewed by Tony Annicone

Attleboro Community Theatre's current holiday family show based on the Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol" is back by popular demand , the timeless story of how Ebenezer Scrooge comes to appreciate the true meaning of Christmas. Director Tammy England makes her show a true family version by using many family members for the characters in her 37 member cast show and adds much more humor to the usually dramatic and frightening tale. This year Charles Dickens narrates the story where the characters of Scrooge and company come to life in and amongst audience members. Tammy uses seven different playing areas as well as the three aisles. This show begins with "Silent Night" sung by Cullen Murphy (who also plays the Turkey boy) and ends with a Christmas Medley sung by the entire cast with the end result being a wonderful rendition of this story with humor mixed with pathos to get even a real life Scrooge into the holiday spirit.

She is aided in her task by assistant director Jo-Ann Vaughn (who recently had bypass surgery) Sylvia Witschi who directs the musical numbers and by Don Gillis who choreographed the Fezziwig scene. (Cullen's younger brother, Sean sings an original song written by this year's Scrooge, Ed Hyman called "On Christmas Day".) Her hard working stage manager, Julie Coogan keeps the 37 member cast moving smoothly from scene to scene. Tammy hits on all the important scenes in the story including the children of sorrow segment(Sean Leehan, Kyle McGuire, Bethany Murphy(their younger sister) and Devin Alessandro portray the comic urchins in Act 1 and then turn dramatic in the second act.) and the death of Tiny Tim (played wonderfully by Devin's younger brother, Jameson who utters the immortal line "God Bless us everyone) which brings tears to your eyes. The fabulous narrator of this version of the show is Tim Coogan who stays on stage almost the whole show. Ed Hyman is scary as the old tyrant at first but makes his transformation gradually with facial expressions and body language. The scene where he quakes in his bed at the entrance of Marley is hilarious as is the whole performance of Doug Macaskill complete with scary makeup and chains. (Tammy is an expert makeup artist.) The Murphy's real life father Patrick plays Bob Cratchitt who wants to buy his children gifts at Blessinger's Toy Shop but is unable to afford it until Scrooge is transformed and gives his three children the gifts. The other three spirits are played excellently by Erin Sue Giles as Christmas Past (she has a strong speaking voice and wonderful acting skills for a young girl) by Billy Castro as Christmas Present who shows Scrooge the error of his ways and Christmas Future played by Adam Rezza clad all in black. Another funny character is Mrs. Turk, the housekeeper played by Melissa Stanziale who walks around on tiptoe. (She thinks she hears Marley's voice in Act 1 as she sings Silent Night in a quavery voice, sells Scrooge's clothes in the Broker scene in the future (the broker is played by Jonathan Handy and award winning actress, Kim Alessandro, Devin and Jameson's mom play the filthy faced Laundress) and she thinks Scrooge has lost his mind in Act 2 summoning his nephew, Fred and his wife, Jane, both well played by Alan Stavris and Jenniffer Vaughn, they lead the chorus in the songs with their strong singing voices.) Another strong actress in this show is Mckenzie Leek who plays the neglected Belle with wonderful pathos in her voice. (She previously appeared in "Nuncrackers" at ACT last season.) Kudos to the rest of this hard working cast who made this a very high spirited and enjoyable entertainment. Happy holidays and be sure to catch this family version of "A Christmas Carol" before time runs out. (Tammy and Val Coogan (who's husband Tim plays Dickens) run the sound effects for the show while her real life husband Scott runs the lighting cues with assistant Scott McGuire who appeared as Tiny Tim in ACT's show in 1996.)

"A Christmas Carol" (5 - 21 December)
ATTLEBORO COMMUNITY THEATRE
71 North Main Street, ATTLEBORO MA
1 (508) 226-8100

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