Arts and Entertainment

The meaning of Christmas comes to life | Review

The cast of “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Chris Ott with an assist from Elizabeth Ripley, includes many children. - Casey Gripp Photo
The cast of “A Christmas Carol,” directed by Chris Ott with an assist from Elizabeth Ripley, includes many children.
— image credit: Casey Gripp Photo

What is it about “A Christmas Carol?” We all know the story. We know how it ends. But somehow, when you are sitting there in the crowd and watching Tiny Tim, Ebeneezer Scrooge and all of their friends, it is impossible to avoid getting a lump in your throat. What a tremendous gift to remember the story at Christmastime, to remember to be grateful for what you have.  And that gift is handled with great care by Drama Dock this season with its wonderful retelling of the popular story.

“A Christmas Carol: Scrooge and Marley” opened at the Blue Heron last weekend, and it continues again next weekend. It was a beautiful show, featuring strong performances, innovative staging and effects and, yes, a story that brings a lump to your throat. The adaptation of the story is by Israel Horovitz, and the show was directed by Chris Ott with an assist from Drama Dock artistic director Elizabeth Ripley.

Among the standouts were Randy Marinez as faithful servant Bob Cratchit, Chaim Rosemarin as Scrooge, movingly and deeply touching when he discovered the meaning of Christ-

mas, and Gordon Millar as Jacob Marley. Also of note in this production were the ghosts — Vasa Seymour (the Past) and Steve Amos (the Present). Amos was also wonderful playing the very scary character of Old Joe. He got the loudest chuckles from the crowd. Other standouts included J.R. Crawford as a very sympathetic and warm Mrs. Cratchit, Patricia Kelly as a jubilant and joyous Mrs. Fezziwig and two “Do-Gooders” (Toby Nichols and Kirk Beeler), who had perfect comic timing together. Toby Nichols also does a great Mr. Fezziwig.

Millar was letter perfect as Jacob Marley. His Scottish accent was just the ticket for the man who leads us through the story. Marinez as Cratchit also did a fantastic job of pulling us into his small but loving family. And do we need to even discuss seeing Tiny Tim’s little crutch by the fire in the future? Take out the hankies!

It was also a true pleasure to see the young actors in such prominent roles, including Max Lopuzsynski as Scrooge’s nephew and Hannah Fellbaum as his wife. The directors integrated a whole passel of kids into the show, singing carols to break scenes and strolling through the crowd. From a personal perspective, it was amazing to see some of the teens emerge into solid leads, after having acted with many of them in the past. They stepped up to the plate, particularly Lopuszynski, who is given a good meaty role and does a sound job.

The staging and special effects were a marvel, as well. Directors Ott and Ripley managed to pull off a miracle in the small Blue Heron space, using the walls to project scenes of the town, as well as “Christmas Future.” The audience on Sunday couldn’t have been happier, and I heard many a person (including my pal beside me) hold back a sniffle or two.

Sniffles really are the order of the day when you see “A Christmas Carol.” There is a reason this wonderful story has lasted so many years. The writing and the story itself are timelessly beautiful. Good old Charles Dickens must have had a crystal ball, because every year the story seems to have more relevance. He paints a beautiful tale of those who have nothing but live in harmony, and those who have everything and live in greed. It is the perfect lesson for Christmas, the perfect way to be reminded of the true meaning of the holiday. And, after leaving the show, you may feel the need to give to others less fortunate in the community — not such a bad message!

If I had any quibble at all with the production, it might be that Scrooge really was rather likeable relatively early in his nightmare. Usually Scrooge keeps fighting the inevitable and denying what the ghosts show him, until the haunting end, when it all becomes clear. In this interpretation, he seemed apologetic very early on in his tour of his past, and I wanted the poor sod to be left alone because he had learned his lesson already.

But that is quibbling. This production really does offer some fantastic acting, inspired direction and that wonderful old chestnut of a story. It is the perfect antidote to the Christmas blues (if you have them) or worries about the state of our world (which many of us have). I left with a smile on my face, as I am sure you will, too.

 

— Lauri Hennessey is a freelance writer on Vashon.

 

Drama Dock will perform “A Christmas Carol” at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 22, 23 and 26 and 2 p.m. on Dec. 24 at the Blue Heron. Tickets, $15/$10, are available at the Blue Heron, the Heron’s Nest, Vashon Bookshop and www.brownpapertickets.com.

 

 

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