Wednesday, December 12, 2007

And to all a good night

?A Christmas Carol: The Musical!? to open at nexStage

Express Staff Writer

Photo by Judy Stoltzfus Bob Cratchett (Keith Moore) and Tiny Tim (Sam McGonigal) stay upbeat during the holidays.

Nightmares of empty stockings and cranky relatives are relived for many people during the holiday. But there is one nightmare that will be laugh and smile inducing. This coming week a musical production of Charles Dickens' most famous tale of love, loss and redemption, "A Christmas Carol" will be presented.

The show, dubbed "A Christmas Carol: The Musical!" will be staged Friday, Dec. 14 (preview night, $10 tickets), and opening night Saturday, Dec. 15, through Christmas Eve Day, Monday, Dec. 24.

Presented by nexStage Theatre and Laughing Stock Theatre Co., "A Christmas Carol: The Musical!" has lively accessible music that doesn't veer into traditional Christmas carols, though there is a fair amount of spoofing involved.

"The thing that attracted us was the music," said Keith Moore, who plays the luckless Bob Cratchit. "The music furthers the story."

"It's a real musical," director Kathy Wygle said. And this version, rather than being a creep-fest of ghoulish ghosts, is musical entertainment replete with dance and geared for all ages.

The play centers on the redemption of the loveless, overbearing dictator-like Ebenezer Scrooge as played to perfection by Scott Creighton, in a reprisal from last year's production. Working for him is Cratchit, who with his burgeoning family is barely able to scrape up the pennies needed for a Christmas Goose. His son, Tiny Tim, (Sam McGonigal) is wobbly and ill. Scrooge's late partner, Jacob Marley (Jamey Reynolds) starts the ball rolling as he invades Scrooge's dreams one infamous night.

Christmas Past (Alberta Jefferson), Present (David Blampied) and Yet-to-come (Chris Campbell) finish off the man's overblown sense of esteem through time warping journeys.

"I like his transformation," Creighton said. "I think this particular version stresses the fact that he's a lonely boy all grown up, that his money and attitude are shields. His transformation comes through his understanding that he's part of humanity. It's in the song he sings at the end, 'It's a Gift.'"

"What would Christmas be without Ebenezer Scrooge?" nexStage Marketing & Development Director Prue Hemmings said. "Not as much fun as it is at the nexStage Theatre in Ketchum for the holiday production of 'A Christmas Carol: The Musical.'"

To kick off the productions run, at the official opening night on Saturday, Dec. 15, the lobby of the nexStage will be "transformed into a Victorian parlor, with lively holiday music and Christmas cheer for all," Hemmings said. "Mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and sweetmeats will warm theatergoers by the fire. Children and parents alike will enjoy the fun as sweet caroling rings out and Father Christmas himself holds court. The festivities will begin at 5:30 p.m. with carolers, a photo opportunity with Santa and treats for all the children before the show's premiere performance of 'Carol.'"

One of the joys of this play is very specific to this presentation. Fabulously painted murals rotate and move on the stage and reveal the snowy city streets and icy pub windows of London.

The Sets were designed and painted by graphic designer Judy Stoltzfus, with architectural help from Steve Pruitt, and painting by Norman Clark.

Footlight Dance Center dancers will be featured in several scenes, as directed by Hilarie Neely.

Other cast members include Patsy Wygle, Mac Harbaugh, Dean Cerutti, Janis Walton, Keith Waller, Sara Gorby, Crystal Lee Thurston, Kristy Kuntz, Ben Schepps, Jamie Wygle, Maddie Miller and a host of other local thespians and singers.

All ages, from single digits through the sixties, are included Kathy Wygle said. "Every decade is represented."

Footlight Dancers include Dakota Barnes, Anne Heiner, Alberta Jefferson, Desi Midby, Moriah Price, Quincy Rainey, Reid Selisch, Courtney Skeahan, Annette Taylor and Brit Ward.

'A Christmas Carol'

· What: "A Christmas Carol -- The Musical."

· Who: Presented by Laughing Stock Theatre Co. and nexStage Theatre.

· Music by Dick Gallager, lyrics by Mark Waldrop, book by David Armstrong.

· Directed by Kathy Wygle, musical direction by Patty Parsons-Tewson, costumes by Winkie McCray, choreography by Sara Gorby, ballet choreography by Hilary Neely, lighting design by Kitty O'Clair.

· When: Preview night is Friday, Dec. 14. Tickets are $10 each. Saturday, Dec. 15, through Sunday, Dec. 24. 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 23 and 24, 2 p.m. matinee.

· Tickets: Dec. 15 & 16, 20-24: $25 for adults, unreserved seats. $15 children (14 years and under) unreserved seats. $50 reserved seating in center front rows. 726-4TKS or nexStage Theatre.

· Where: nexStage Theatre, 120 S. Main St., Ketchum.

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