Professional Theatre For Maine

A Christmas Carol at The Public Theatre

Posted on 11/05/2007 12:00am

This holiday season, for one weekend only, Dec 7, 8, and 9th, The Public Theatre, Lewiston/Auburn's Professional Theatre Company, will present their acclaimed adaptation of A Christmas Carol followed by A Homespun Holiday. The Public Theatre's own version of Dickens' classic has become a yuletide tradition in Lewiston/Auburn. This inventive adaptation, performed by six actors and a fiddler, was developed at and written for The Public Theatre by Artistic Director Christopher Schario in 1993, and has since been published by Dramatists Play Service and is now regularly performed by various theatres around the world. "I received a phone call last year", says Schario, "from a theatre in Hawaii who wanted permission to broadcast their production of our adaptation on PBS! An even greater thrill was discovering that a company in London, England was going to be producing The Public Theatre's script, praising that they loved how our version honored the original intent of the story. Winning the 'stamp of approval' from a company in London was a nice affirmation."

With all the different versions out there, this adaptation remains many peoples favorite. "Our version came about out of a desire to return to the heart of the story", says Schario. Many Christmas Carols have become an excuse for a costume and scenery extravaganza or are looked at by some theatres as money making opportunities to cast local children as non-speaking townspeople in hopes of dragging in their parents as ticket buyers. For those reasons, some people have a cynical response when they hear news of another version of A Christmas Carol. To those people we say, come on over to The Public Theatre and we'll help you rediscover your true holiday spirit as well as the magic of theatre.

This inventive adaptation of Dickens' classic story imaginatively rejuvenates this familiar tale, bringing back the warmth, charm and humor at the heart of the story. Much of Dickens' original text is used, with six actors sharing narration, and portraying various characters with the aid of a simple hat, a cloak, a robe, etc. A live fiddler underscores the story with traditional Christmas music, and a hand-cranked wind machine and a thunder sheet creates a delightfully theatrical atmosphere. Uncluttered by spectacle, the audience's imagination is free to soar, and this classic story comes to life in a way you’ve never imagined. Schario's version begins with a child reading a copy of Dickens' novel. As the child reads, five actors and a fiddler magically appear and slowly coax the child into joining the story and into becoming the character of Tiny Tim. It's a marvelous metaphor for the way literature grabs and transforms us, as well as an original way of illuminating this inspiring tale of human redemption.

Leading the cast of A Christmas Carol will be JT O'Connor as Scrooge. JT has performed previously at The Pubic Theatre in the farce Rough Crossing, and most recently as Axel in The Nerd and is looking forward to the challenge of filling Scrooge's shoes. Also new to the cast this season will be Theater at Monmouth favorite Dennis Price as Fred and Christmas Present. The rest of the company includes Michael Frederic as Marley/Bob Cratchit, Maria Kelly as Belle/Fan, Sheila Stasack as Mrs. Cratchit/The Ghost of Christmas Past, and Emily Schario as Tiny Tim.

Returning as the fiddler will be acclaimed musician and storyteller Jennifer Armstrong. Jennifer brings her own special magic to A Christmas Carol and provides a glorious second act to the evening when she adds her banjo, harp, guitar, and bagpipe and performs her production of A Homespun Holiday, a wonderful mix of classic holiday songs and stories.

"This delightful double-feature of holiday shows makes a great present for the entire family," says Schario, "and with a top ticket price of only $18 for adults, $16 for students and seniors, and $10 for children under twelve, it's professional theatre at a price even Scrooge would love! Also, gift certificates for tickets for this production, or any play throughout the remainder of the season are available for the holidays!"

A Christmas Carol and A Homespun Holiday will be performed on Friday, Dec 7th at 7 pm, Saturday, Dec 8th at 7 pm, and Sunday Dec 9th at 1 pm and 4 pm. For tickets call the Box Office at 782-3200.