BRATTLEBORO — If something turns out great, and is fun to do, it is only natural to do it again. So the Vermont Theater Company will present "A Christmas Carol" to the Brattleboro audience for a second year. Directed by James "Jay" Gelter and produced by Michelle Page, this year's production promises to be a crowd pleaser. Director Jay Gelter said, "Audiences responded to this true-to-Dickens approach with such enthusiasm last year, that we felt compelled to bring the production back."
VTC's publicist and board member Mike Jerald, added "It's the right time and the right theme for any generation about tolerating differences, and it is particularly pertinent now with what we are dealing with in the world." He added that it is even better than last year's production. One reason being that the special effects are better with the new lighting system at the Hooker-Dunham Theater. They are more efficient and colorful, making the ghostly scenes even scarier.
For Jay, who wrote the adaptation again this year, "A Christmas Carol" holds a special place in his heart as the first play 6-year-old Gelter participated in. He believes in keeping the Carol true to Dickens' dialogue because nothing is as good as Dickens' story, and to strictly maintain the Victorian era setting, He said that many adaptations are not only not traditional – from puppets to extraterrestrials – but pivotal points in the original book are often cut in lieu of other moments that perhaps are a little more friendly, a little more romantic. It won't be the same play as last year, as Jay was sure to include intense scenes that carry heavy emotional weight such as the moment Ebenezer Scrooge witnesses his selfish act in the past of abandoning his younger sister, and feeling her sadness.
Jerald said if Dickens had written the play, this is how he would have done it.
Jessica Gelter, who directed last year's Carol and is the music, costume and stage director this year, also approached the musical accompaniment differently this year. Rather than an entire cast as in last year, she chose two singers, Katy Peterson of the Blanche Moyse Choral and Kristina Meima who studied musical theater in New York City, to underscore the moments in song. Songs are chosen to set the mood or serve as a transitional tool between scenes. For Scrooge's aforementioned scene witnessing his sister's sadness, the mournful Coventry Carol adds punch to the scene, All songs are either referred to in Dickens' original novella or songs of that era.
Stage director Jessica's approach is to keep it simple and elegant. There are not a lot of props to detract the focus from the dialogue, but rather acted out by the cast to allow the audience's imagination to take over. She said "A Christmas Carol" lends itself so well to play format because there is lots of beautiful, rich and dense dialogue.
She said, "I think it's really fun to see it again and see the differences between Jay's direction and mine. I think it will be a beautiful show."
The cast is different this year also. Other than John Mack playing Scrooge again, the rest of the cast are new faces to VTC's Carol. What is noteworthy too is that many are family members participating together, several are parent and child combinations. For instance Matt Blau of Fireworks Restaurant and his daughter Lila are in it together, and the actor playing Tiny Tim is Gelters' daughter. There is also a wide range of experience on the stage, from Mack, who has done many plays, to Matthew Blau who is stretching his acting legs for the first time. Jay finds that very exciting because that is what community theater is all about, a family event for everyone.
"Tradition is not what keeps 'A Christmas Carol' popular a century and a half later," said Gelter, "Unfortunately, it remains popular due to it intense relevancy. Dickens' ideal world in which poverty and hatred amongst classes is eradicated has not been realized. But his story lives on as a message of hope, of redemption. Could a soul as lost as Ebenezer Scrooge really be brought back to the light? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, it is in our best interest to hope he can, and to do all we can to help him."
Everyone agreed it was fun to work on and would do it again, and would love to make it a yearly tradition at VTC.
The show opens tonight, Dec. 10, and runs for two weekends, Dec. 10 through 13 and Dec. 17 through 20. Thursday through Saturday performances are at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 3 p.m.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students on Fridays and Saturdays, and $12 for all on Thursdays and Sundays. All performances will be in the Hooker-Dunham Theater, 139 Main St. Brattleboro. If you donate a non-perishable food item on Thursdays, admission will be $10.
Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 802-258-1344 or by email at email@example.com.