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For the week of December 6 through 12, 2000

Holiday classic treads in Hailey

Express Staff Writer

Local theater group Company of Fools in Hailey is producing the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens, though the month of December at the Liberty Theatre in Hailey.

Playwright Douglas Jones, adapted the 50-minute version of the play, originally written in 1843. Jones also adapted Company of Fool‘s versions of Jack and the Beanstalk and Town Mouse and Country Mouse.

Denise Simone, associate artistic director of Company of Fools, says that 90 percent of the play is Dickens.

"It’s seen through the eyes of a little boy reading the story for the first time."

"He [Jones] put in this wonderfully playful, self-conscious telling of the story-a horse becomes coconut shells, actors change characters by physical adjustments." All the actors, except Chad Smith, who plays Scrooge, are playing several characters, which makes this version a true ensemble experience.

John Glenn, director and set designer, built the set from a "Victorian pop-out kind of post card, it kind of comes out at you," Simone says.

The story of a poor man and his struggles to feed his family, while still providing a Christmas celebration -- and Scrooge, the cruel, uncaring man who employs him -- has been beloved for many years in all its different productions on stage, screen and television.

Ultimately, it teaches the true meaning of family, the importance of love and remembering those less fortunate. It’s also an irresistible ghost story.

Prior to the show a Chorale will be caroling in the lobby with some of the Wood River Youth Orchestra to benefit Project Respect, and Wood River Hospice. There will be a "hat" out with a sign asking for donations, Simone says.

"It is a tradition [during the holidays] in the theatre world to give back to community."

Playing the infamous, terminally miserly anti-Christmas Ebenezer Scrooge is Chad Smith. While Smith is a young man, the "beauty of the adaptation is that it asks the audience to play and suspend belief, you don’t even think of [his age]," says Simone.

The local cast also includes Tobias Wilson as Jacob Marley, Fezziwig and Christmas Present. Nick Harman is playing the beleaguered Bob Crachit, Scrooge’s nephew and the young Scrooge; while Company of Fools intern Devin Kearnes is playing Belle and Scrooge’s niece. Simone appears as Christmas Past and Mrs. Crachit.

Sharing the roles of Tiny Tim, Mrs. Fezziwig and Turkey Lad are two local students Evan Sofro, from the Community School, and Nate Theobald, a fourth grader at Hailey Elementary school.

Company of Fools managing director R.L. Rowsey and Russell Simone Wilson, the fourth grade daughter of Company of Fools’ artistic director Rusty Wilson and Denise Simone, are doing sound effects, playing violin and piano in the orchestra pit. Rowsey is also acting as the Chorale master prior to the show.

Along with the regularly scheduled shows, there are also five student matinees booked. Among the schools coming to Hailey to see the performance are classes from Camas Elementary, Murtaugh Elementary, Wood River Middle School, Bellevue and Hailey Elementary, the whole Carey School, and the nine students from the Pioneer School in Mountain Home.

The three corporate underwriters are the Papoose Club, Viking Components, and Tully’s Coffee. It is their participation that has allowed the Company of Fools to offer scholarships to anyone unable to pay the ticket price.

Mitzi Mecham, who teaches signing for the deaf for the College of Southern Idaho, is signing all but two of the shows, says Simone.

Costume designer Thomas Hammond in Richmond, Va., made the Victorian style costumes. "They are really lovely," Simone says. "A visually neat and different look for Company of Fools than what people might expect, like a page off a book."

A Christmas Carol runs through the month every weekend, evening shows are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets for the show are available at the box office before shows, at Read All About It in Hailey, and Chapter One in Ketchum, or by calling 788-6520.


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