News Column

'A Christmas Carol': Adapted Christmas classic returns to Public Theatre [Sun Journal (Lewiston, ME)]

November 30, 2013

YellowBrix

This holiday season, for one weekend only, Dec. 13, 14, and 15, The Public Theatre, will present their acclaimed adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" followed by a holiday sing-along featuring "Christmas Carol" fiddler Jennifer Armstrong. The Public Theatre's own version of Dickens' classic has become a favorite holiday tradition in Lewiston/Auburn. This inventive adaptation, performed by six actors and a fiddler, was developed 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 theatres around the world.

"There's a great reason why this story is told during the holidays and will never go away," Schario said. "Sometimes it's easy to forget the meaning of the season in all the holiday shopping. Watching Scrooge's journey awakens my own holiday spirit and always gets me ready to truly celebrate Christmas."

Another thing worth celebrating, Schario said, is The Public Theatre's ticket price of only $5 for children 18 and under. "With our $5 ticket, we are hoping to introduce today's youth to the magic of professional theatre and give them a gift they'll have for the rest of their lives. Plus, we are happy to offer quality family entertainment that people can actually afford to bring their family to."

With all the different versions out there of this story, The Public Theatre's adaptation remains many people's favorite. "We stay true to the heart of the story, while at the same time imaginatively rejuvenating this familiar tale," Schario said. Much of Dickens' original text is used, with six actors sharing narration, and portraying various characters with the aid of a simple costume piece. A live fiddler underscores the story with traditional Christmas music, and a hand-cranked wind machine and a thunder sheet create 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.

The Public Theatre'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 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 Dale Place in the role of Scrooge. Dale returns to The Public Theater having most recently appeared on Broadway at Lincoln Center in "Nikolai" and the "Others." Public Theatre Audiences might also recognize Dale from his roles various films such as "The Fighter" and "The Proposal," starring Sandra Bullock.

Also returning to the Public Theatre will be Russell Berrigan, Sheila Stasack ("Fallen Angels," "Red Herring"), and Ellen Lindsay ("The 3 Little Pigs"). Local actors include Matt Delameter ("Last Mass at St. Casimir's"), and newcomer and Auburn Middle Schooler, Oliver Hall as Tiny Tim. Returning as the fiddler will be acclaimed musician and storyteller Jennifer Armstrong.

With a top ticket price of only $20 for adults, and $5 for children under 12, it's professional theatre at a price even Scrooge would love! Gift certificates for any production throughout the remainder of the season are also available for the holidays.

"A Christmas Carol" will be performed at 7 p.m., Friday, Dec. 13 and at 7 and 2 p.m., Saturday, and 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15.

For tickets call the Box Office at 782-3200. For more information visit www.thepublictheatre.org.

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