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Feature Article - December 8, 2005

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December 8, 2005

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Two Dougs and a Peter bring off A Christmas Carol

by Jeff Green and Linda Rush

A Christmas Carol is one of the best known stories in the English language. It has been interpreted in diverse film versions over the years, featuring actors as varied as Alistair Sims, Bill Murray, and Kermit the Frog, and is performed in dramatic readings every year.


So, when Doug Boulter adapted A Christmas Carol for performance by the North Frontenac Little Theatre, he could pretty well count on his audience being not only familiar with the story itself, but with some of the visual representations that have come before. So, for example, in the scene when the Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Mark Millar, opens his robe to reveal the figures of want and ignorance, it was only necessary to have Scrooge see the ghoulish figures, the rest of the audience could fill the scene in with memories from the films.

Employing a sparse but ingenious set, with much of the action taking place in front of the curtain, Boulter’s adaptation took advantage of the richness of Dickens’ language as well as the actor’s abilities to portray the familiar characters.

In this version of the play, Peter Platenius set the scene by providing a gently ironic tone to the narration, while Doug MacIntyre gave Scrooge a rendering that ranged from outright rage to hysterical giddiness. In his debut performance with the North Frontenac Little Theatre, Doug had a challenging role, as he is on the stage for the entire performance. Doug was up to the challenge, and provided a convincing and entertaining portrayal of the legendary Scrooge, both as a villain and as a completely reformed man, as well as for all the stages in between. Together Peter and Doug set a light but sincere tone for A Christmas Carol without allowing the production to descend to an outright parody.

The script for this version calls for a large cast, all of whom did a very creditable job of bringing the play to life. Notable among the familiar crew of Little Theatre character actors were John Stephens, who brought genuine humility and warmth to Bob Cratchit, and Paddy O’Conner, whose zombie-like rendering of the chain-dragging Jacob Marley was riveting. Kevin Melcher, as Scrooge’s young nephew, brought a great deal of youthful charm to the production, as did young Maddie Field-Green whose portrayal of Tiny Tim could not fail to touch the audience’s hearts.

Strong performances by Sarah Hale, Mark Millar and Susan Stopford as the Ghosts of Christmas’ Past, Present and Future kept the production moving along well. Notable performances were also given by Norman Gutensperger (as the kind and irrepressible Mr Fezziwig), Andrea Dickinson (as Bob Cratchit’s patient and cheerful wife), Emily Dickinson (as the charming fiancof the young Scrooge) and by Jesse Mills as the young Scrooge himself. Lynda Boulter and Martina Field expressed scorn and astonishment as the outraged Charity Ladies, John Macdougal and Craig Godfrey were suitably sleazy as Old Joe and Dodger, and Karen Wolsey and Karen Steele were deliciously despicable as the Charwoman and the Laundress. North Frontenac Little Theatre’s good reputation in the community guarantees that performances will be well attended, and A Christmas Carol was no exception. The audience was not disappointed, and left happy to add this experience to the festivities and rituals that make the Christmas Season special to so many of us.

More images from AChristmas Carol (click thumbnails for full view)

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