Hayswood’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ is gift for audience
I had the good fortune of sitting with about 50 other people Saturday night and watching one of the better ‘A Christmas Carol’ productions at Hayswood Theatre. And I have seen countless productions and television programs of the play throughout the years.
I enjoyed this performance mainly because it followed the original story, Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,’ so well. There were many scenes and lines that were pulled straight from his work which I think makes it more enjoyable because Dickens was truly a first-class writer.
Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ has been one of my favorite stories since I was a little girl. Dickens is my favorite author, and while I can hardly choose a favorite work, this one definitely tops my list. The novella was originally published in 1843 by Dickens who was in desperate need of money.
It’s a timeless story of a man named Ebenezer Scrooge, who is basically a selfish, mean-spirited, miserly person. Scrooge’s former business partner, Jacob Marley, who is now a ghost, visits him on Christmas Eve to warn him that he will be visited by three spirits throughout the early morning. The story then tells of Scrooge’s journey as he is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future, which transform Scrooge into a better person.
Thrown into the mix of characters is Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk, and the Cratchit family, including a son named Tiny Tim, who is crippled. Scrooge also has a nephew who is the only son of his late sister, Fanny, among many other characters.
Marley, who wears the chains he made link by link in his own life, is by far my favorite character. Woody Woodfin portrayed him in Hayswood’s production. Woodfin did a great job, but I felt Marley’s time on stage was too short. He also needed more chains to make the pain he suffered by carrying those chains throughout eternity to really be felt by the audience. I don’t feel this production offers anything to help the audience identify with Marley, who is a fascinating character.
Scrooge, though clich’d, is another favorite. Rick Pauley, the actor, who portrayed him in at Hayswood Theatre did a wonderful job. Pauley truly steals the show with his ability to make the audience loathe him and a second later have them laughing.
His lines are a good mix of mean and comical, using both the clich’d ‘Bah Humbug’ but also the very funny ‘I have been haunted against my will,’ with the first being taken straight from Dickens’ work and the latter not.
However, one disappointment was the use of Scrooge’s memories. The audience hears a recorded version of lines Scrooge has said in the past, while Scrooge is thinking about his past actions. I was distracted by this. And I think it detracts from the show rather than serves any good purpose. It also seems out of place since it was thankfully not used throughout the performance.
I was tremendously surprised by the many talented young actors whose acting ability is on a par with the older, more seasoned actors on stage.
‘A Christmas Carol’ has many young characters, so finding the right actors to play those parts is surely a challenge. In this area, Hayswood outdid itself.
Danny Smith of Marengo was one of these. Smith played three distinctive parts throughout the play, a caroler, Orsen (a friend of young Scrooge), and Peter Cratchit.
I found myself paying close attention to this actor because his facial expressions were lively. It is obvious Greg Bone, the director, put a lot of thought and direction into the facial expressions of the actors. The smiles, frowns and even fear on the actors’ faces tell the story.
Smith went from being a happy, smiling caroler to a boy with a wide-eyed look of mischief. As I watched the play, I thought to myself at first that his talent was tremendously under used. However, as I sat writing, I think he was perfect for the part of the caroler, whose sole purpose is to slowly annoy Scrooge ‘ who hates Christmas cheer ‘ throughout the play. Smith really made the audience laugh.
Eight-year-old Trevor Wiley, who played Tiny Tim, was another young actor who shined on stage. He delivered that famous line, ‘God bless us everyone,’ with ease, but more importantly portrayed Tiny Tim, who is crippled, well. He did a fantastic job hobbling around the stage using the crutch that was made by Wiley’s grandfather.
These two young actors, along with many others, are reason enough to see this year’s production.
Overall, Hayswood Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol,’ adapted by Romulus Linney and directed by Bone, is a wonderful Christmas treat for everyone. I would definitely recommend that parents take their children to see it and introduce them to an excellent author who isn’t as widely read today, especially in these days of ‘Harry Potter.’