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“A Christmas Carol” spreads holiday cheer in first Viking Theatre winter play in 16 years

Photo courtesy of Kevin Eichelberg

Photo courtesy of Kevin Eichelberg

Ethan Wong, A&E Editor

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The Fremd Drama Club performed Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for the first winter play at Fremd in 16 years.  The show was performed as part of the new annual Fremd Drama schedule that replaces the yearly spring play with a winter edition.  The play tells the story of elderly London businessman Ebenezer Scrooge in the early 19th century, who is played by senior Luke Madden.  Scrooge’s cruel and greedy ways warrants the appearance of supernatural spirits who attempt to change Scrooge’s attitude in the days leading up to Christmas.

Senior Kathleen McManus played the part of Belle, who is Scrooge’s past love.  In the play, she dissolves the relationship once she realizes that Scrooge prioritizes money over her.  The amount of pain that needed to be expressed through the character was a new trial that McManus had to take on but proved to be rewarding in the end.

“I wanted to show through Dickens’s lines and my own emotion how hurt Belle had become through the span of their relationship,” McManus said. “She is such a change from some of the fun and lighthearted characters I have played in the past.  I enjoyed the change and challenge of finding my unique way to portray such a well-known character.”

The performance featured many intricate effects such as projectors, smoke machines, an elevated set, and elaborate costumes that helped capture the feel of Industrial Revolution-era London as well as the supernatural spectacles that occur during the play.

During the process of adaptation, director Marilyn Berdick placed focus upon the appearances of the ghosts, as they can easily affect the mood of the show.

“I wanted to be sure the four ghosts were all very ghost-like.  It was really important that the ghost of Marley and Christmas Yet to Come were creepy and scary and disturbing and certainly not funny-that would have ruined the show,” Berdick said. “I feel we achieved that really well.  But this story is so well written that Dickens had already made the switch from such opposite emotions very smooth so I just followed his lead from the original story.”

One challenge that arose during the production was the new timeline that placed the play much closer to the fall musical.  The change came along with the new District 211 schedule that puts finals before winter break.

McManus found that the time crunch placed a lot of pressure on the cast, but any other timing simply wouldn’t work.

“Auditions for this show took place in between the show dates of the fall musical which was both hectic yet exciting to roll from one show to the next,” McManus said. “Because this was winter play instead of spring play, our rehearsal schedule was broken up due to Thanksgiving break which was an obstacle in the rehearsal process. Having finals right around the corner is a bit surreal and stressful, but I really enjoyed performing a holiday classic which is something that would seem a bit odd during the middle of May.”

Berdick felt that the timing of the play this year also allows for the message to have a more meaningful impact on the audience.

“The message of this play is so universal.  We all do things and act in ways we aren’t proud of. Hopefully none of us as bad as Scrooge is!  This story gives us all a feeling of hope.  If there is a chance for the Scrooges of the world to find redemption, then we all have that chance and that hope,” Berdick said. “That message goes perfectly with why this time of year is so important to so many people.  I know it may sound corny and cliché, but this is the season of hope and new chances and recognizing how dear things are to us, just as Charles Dickens illustrates with his timeless story.”

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“A Christmas Carol” spreads holiday cheer in first Viking Theatre winter play in 16 years