SRU adapts ‘A Christmas Carol’ for Dec. 2-8 presentation

stage production of A Christmas Carol

Slippery Rock University will present a revamped telling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” during a seven-show run from Dec. 2-8 at the University Union.

Nov. 15, 2016

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - When Ebenezer Scrooge grumps and grumbles his way across the stage for Slippery Rock University's Dec. 2-8 presentation of "A Christmas Carol," a few surprises will accompany the miser's iconic catchphrase, "Bah, humbug."

The story of Scrooge's transformation into a gentler, kindlier man will be fleshed out with original dialogue and additional characters, according to David Skeele, professor of theatre and show director.

The adapted version, based on the novella by Charles Dickens and adapted by Skeele, deviates from the original with the appearance of new, key characters and will be staged in the University Union with presentations at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 2, 3 and 5-8; and a 2 p.m. matinee, Dec. 4.

In Skeele's adaptation, The Ghost of Christmas Past, representing Scrooge's late business partner Jacob Marley, is played by a woman in a light-up dress who will be propelled across the stage on a dolly by Hell's Footmen, a trio not featured in the original work.

Another new twist is The Ghost of Christmas Present taking the form of a living Christmas tree rather than the traditional "jolly giant" that resembles Father Christmas.

"A traditional proscenium production might involve flying in highly realistic sets and using stage machinery to create illusions," Skeele said. "However, a lot of the artistic decisions we make in this production are influenced by the space we play in.

"We have to make the magic right in front of the audience's eyes, in a very theatrical way," he said. "For instance, we use the Hell's Footmen the same way the assistants are used in Kabuki Theatre: they propel The Ghost of Christmas Past about on a rolling platform and we can understand immediately that it represents time travel.

In another scene, the Footmen represent the front door and wall of Scrooge's house.

"We believe there are some huge advantages to doing things so theatrically," Skeele said. "For one thing, it forces the audience to use its imagination more, and thus to participate in a more active way, and people tend to appreciate that. It's simply much faster - transitions can happen in a literal blink of an eye, and no one likes to sit there watching laborious scene changes."

Dickens' evergreen classic, first published in 1843, has enjoyed a long shelf life, having been adapted countless times for stage and screen. Those who love the original won't be disappointed, Skeele said, because Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit and Jacob Marley - among many other traditional characters - will all be along for the ride.

The cast, which features SRU students and a variety of community members, includes:

  • Lawrence Karl, a psychology major from Moon, as Scrooge;
  • Ethan Rochow, theatre major from West Middlesex, as Bob Cratchit;
  • Kristina Streno, a theatre major from Eighty Four, as Mrs. Cratchit;
  • Sean Grove, a criminology major from Lebanon, as Young Scrooge;
  • Zach Zehner, an English major from Sharon, as the Undertaker's Man;
  • Darrin Mosley, a dance major from York, as Jacob Marley;
  • Jared Lewis, a theatre major from Plum, as Nephew;
  • Jordan Semonovich, a theatre major from Pittsburgh, as Hell's Footman One;
  • Erin Ritson, a theatre major from Youngstown, Ohio, as Hell's Footman Two;
  • Kiersten Hope, a theatre major from Vero Beach, Florida, as Hell's Footman Three;
  • Kaitlin Cliber a theatre major from Plum, as The Ghost of Christmas Past;
  • Rebecca McGann a music major from Berwick, as The Ghost of Christmas Present;
  • Zach Malinak, a communication major from Conway, as Fezziwig;
  • Samantha Dyer, a theatre major from Corry, as Bridget;
  • Patrick Lamb, a theatre major from Greenville, as Schoolmaster;
  • Kathryn Jones, a theatre major from Blairsville, as Belle";
  • Allison Valletta, a theatre major from Kent, Ohio, as Laundress; and
  • Sammi Misterka, a theatre major from Pittsburgh, as Ali Baba;

Debra Holmes, instructor of theatre, serves as the puppet designer; Gordon Phetteplace, associate professor of theatre, as set designer; and Rebecca Morrice, associate professor of theatre, as costumer designer.

Tickets, $8 for students with ID and $12 for general admission, can be purchased online beginning Nov. 18, at https://sru.secure.force.com/ticket or in person at the Smith Student Center Information Desk.

MEDIA CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine | 724.738.4854 | gordon.ovenshine@sru.edu