Theatre Mirror Reviews - "A Christmas Carol"

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note: entire contents copyright 1996 by Larry Stark


"A Christmas Carol"

Adapted from the story by Charles Dickens
by Jon Kimbell, D. Zoffoli & David James
Directed & Choreographed by Greg Ganakis
Musical Arrangements by Alby Potts
Musical Direction by Jay Atwood

Set Design by Howard Jones
Lighting Design by Kendall Smith
Costume Design by Nancy Leary
Sound Design by John A. Stone
Production Stage Manager K. Lee Harvey

SCROOGE.......................David Coffee
NARRATOR....................Marcus Neville
JACOB MARLEY................Carl Danielsen
BOB CRATCHIT.....................Kim Moore
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PRESENT......Mark Jones
GENTLEMAN ONE
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS PAST.....Nancy Johnston
MRS. CRATCHIT
GHOST OF CHRISTMAS FUTURE......Jay Douglas
YOUNG SCROOGE
BELLE.....................Kristen Novalany
FRED..........................Kirk Mouser
MEG........................Ashley Mortimer
FEZZIWIG.................Randy Charleville
GENTLEMAN TWO
MRS. FEZZIWIG...............Cheryl McMahon
MRS. DILBERT
MRS. TUGBY
JOE.........................Peter A. Carey
PEARLIE.....................Debbie Fuhrman
PEARLIE...............................Tabb
PETER CRATCHIT.........Matthew Soursourian
FAN............................Kyla Fallon
MARTHA CRATCHIT.............Jessica Coffin
BELINDA CRATCHIT....Lindsay Arienne Weiner
TINY TIM.................Mallory Ottariano
IGNORANCE...................Rudi Ottariano
WANT..............Dalya Michelle Bronstein
TURKEY BOY.....................Josh Holden
TURKEY BOY.............Christopher Thomann
CAROLLERS......................Scott Jedry
BELLRINGERS...........Nancy Katz Bronstein
PARTY.................Leslie Trayer Harvey
GUESTS.......................Michael Kayne

MUSICIANS
CORNET............................Jay Daly
HORN.........................Whitacre Hill
TROMBONE...................Donald Robinson
VIOLIN...................Stanley Silverman
HARP...........................Martha Moor



If you added in "Scrooge & Marley" "Fezziwig's Party" and "Scrooge" you could find 25 different productions based on or called "A Christmas Carol" running in New England this week alone. What's more, The North Shore Music Theatre has been doing their own version for eight years now --- and to top it off I reviewed the show Last year. The only way I could possibly do it again was to see it's 9th annual presentation with someone whose eyes might be a little fresher. She loved it.

She's a veteran theater-goer, having seen every production but one at the North Shore Music Theatre for over a year (we missed "Oliver!"), and she had indeed seen this show last December. But that was last year when she was still in pre-school. In kindergarten now, she's sophisticated enough to say succinctly that she liked "The singing!" best in "42nd Street" --- a dramatic critic in the making, though she keeps most of her judgements carefully to herself.

She was still a little apprehensive about "the chain man" --- the ghost of Jacob Marley (Carl Danielsen), in purple black-lighted makeup, whose appearance is accompanied by lightning flashes and loudly ominous music and reverb. This year though she only ducked once or twice at the loudest parts, and covered her ears, but was eagerly curious to watch his writhing, stentorian excoriations of his still-living partner. Last year she spent the entire scene with her face buried in her father's arm-pit.

This year she was more likely to emit a surprised "Wow" when the tall staff of The Gost of Christmas Present (Mark Jones) gave off roman candles, or the gravestone erupted fire to reveal the name Ebenezer Schrooge. This year her open eyes and open mouth were intently focused, from the ritual acknowledgement of the spotlight-operators climbing into the flies before show to ritual of standing and applauding at the curtain-calls. This year her laconic, empathetic notes about what the actors were feeling were frequently whispered incomprehensibly to her dad. This year she remarked on a kid little bigger than she is singing and dancing on stage. But she's still kid enough herself to enjoy the ritual Ben & Jerry's popsicle in the interval --- digging out the lumps of cookie-dough is a treat not to be missed.

My own eyes were a year older and familiar with the outline of the show, but perhaps for that reason aware of unexpected details. There's a sprig of holly that gets purchased early in a crowd-scene; when Bob Cratchit (Kim Moore) gives a shilling to two unsuccessful charity-solicitors, they hand him that sprig; later Mrs. Cratchit (Nancy Johnson) puts it into the top of her plum pudding.

This year David Coffee's Scrooge seemed much more intently focused, less theatrical, and more movingly human. Mark Jones as Christmas Present seemed more engagingly jolly than regally imposing. This year I was fixated on Dance Captain Debbi Fuhrman and Tabb, who spent the entire show whirling and cartwheeling energetically as the sprites that spice nearly every scene.

This year Matthew Soursourian moved up from playing Tiny Tim Cratchit to portraying his older brother Peter. The new Tim was Miss Mallory Ottariano. Her kid brother Rudi was making his debut playing Ignorance, and no doubt he's ready to work his way up the ranks as he matures, the way Jessica Coffin moved from Meg to Martha Cratchit this year.

Rather than being bored as I expected, I saw details I'd missed before. Marley's admonition that the business of human beings is not business but involvement with fellow humans sounded more emphatic this year. Old Scrooge dancing with his young love at the Fezziwigs' long ago party was a deeply moving detail. Everywhere I looked there were bits of believable by-play for every individual in the crowd-scenes, making tiny human sparks apparent only to the audience close enough to catch them. This time the symbolic figures of Ignorance and Want (Dalya Michelle Bronstein), children whose plight and whose future Scrooge is told to change somehow stood out from the general spectacle.

I wonder what "new" details I'll see next year, when veteran theater-goer Bobina VanderLaan will be seeing it with a first-grader's eyes.

Love,
===Anon.


"A Christmas Carol" (till 20 December)
THE NORTH SHORE MUSIC THEATRE
62 Dunham Road, BEVERLY
1(508)922-8500
Read Larry Stark's review of last year's production

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide

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