arts

Irish Lion hosts classic Christmas play

Adaptation of Dickens tells story through drama



This Christmas season, amid the hustle and bustle of finals and early bird specials, one play in town will have audiences singing and believing in the power of Christmas. Brought to life at the Irish Lion is a classic tale of hope, repentance and maybe a "bah, humbug!" or two. Running at 8 p.m. Dec. 6, 12 and 13, the Monroe County Civic Theater presents, in the spirit of the yuletide season, "A Christmas Carol."

The play, a traditional take on Charles Dickens' classic novella, is performed by 13 skilled and diverse actors, ranging from an 11-year-old Tiny Tim to a fully matured Ebenezer Scrooge. While the production closely follows the traditional lines of the novel, audiences can expect a major difference between reading the book to seeing it live: stimulation for the ears.

Running approximately 50 minutes, "A Christmas Carol" creates for audiences the tale of a grumpy old businessman who sees the error of his ways before his "odious, stingy heart" brought about his demise.

With 13 Christmas songs being performed by members of the cast, "A Christmas Carol" is as much a musical as it is a play. Audience participation is welcomed and encouraged when it comes to singing along with the songs. Between the traditional carols and the old-world feel of the Irish Lion, it is easy to imagine oneself in the 1840s world of a cold and selfish man who was saved by the power of the Christmas spirit, not to mention three ghosts.

This re-envisioning of the book is unique in that Russell McGee, the director, wanted to closely examine the fear the three ghosts caused Scrooge. He said he felt that many times this fear is downplayed but it was important to showcase the lesson that fear teaches people. Because after all, "A Christmas Carol" is, all labels aside, a ghost story.

One such ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Present played by senior Kyra Claussen, helped the stingy Scrooge learn his lesson through her skilled acting and much creative freedom from the director.

"Russ, the director, gave us free reign over our characters," Claussen said. "A lot of people have preconceived notions about my role, but Russ said he trusted me and I should just go with it, which was awesome."

Described by Claussen as a "feel-good play to take your mind off finals," "A Christmas Carol" is predicted to get audiences into the holiday spirit.

"This show has quite a following, so I didn't want to mess with the traditional quality of it," McGee said. "I didn't change much by way of direction, so audiences can expect to see the traditional play that they know"

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