Volume 9 Week 1

Wednesday, Dec. 9


Updated Nov. 1

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Orléans Ward
Bob Monette





(Posted 9 a.m., Dec. 5)

OYP production of Dickens classic rekindles Christmas spirit
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

David Loveridge plays Ebenezer Scrooge in the Orleans Young Players production of 'A Christmas Carol' on this weekend in the Black Box Theatre at the Shenkman Arts Centre. Fred Sherwin/Photo

When the Orleans Young Players' Christmas class was trying to decide on a play that fit the theatre school's theme for the 2009-2010 season of classical theatre, the choice was obvious.

When it comes to Christmas classics there is nothing more enduring, or endearing, than the timeless Dickens masterwork "A Christmas Carol", the Victorian-era tale about the miserly curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge who is given a chance to redeem himself after being visited by three spirits.

The story has been retold hundreds of times, both on the stage and in the movies. The most famous of the many adaptations is the 1951 silver screen version starring Alistair Sim as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Thankfully, it is this version that OYPTS artistic director Kathi Langston decided to use as a guide in developing her own adaptation of the Dickens classic, appropriately titled "An OYP Christmas Carol", which was recently presented at the Shenkman Arts Centre.

The production stuck as close to the original story as possible, although there were a handful of omissions made for brevity's sake. The large cast included a number of OYPTS veterans like Gordon Watts, who played Uncle Fred; Lynn Lebel, who played Bob Marley; Tyler Smith who was one of the narrators; and Hayden Smith who made a brief appearance as Mr. Fezziwig.

The starring role was given to first-timer David Loveridge. It was a risky bit of casting, especially for such a well-known character, but Loveridge did an admirable job especially early on in the play when Scrooge is at his bah, humbug best.

For someone who has grown up watching the black and white film version of "A Christmas Carol", seeing the tale unfold live and in living colour was a real treat. My 11-year-old twin boys, on the other hand, said they still preferred the Mickey Mouse version after seeing the play.

Probably the most intriguing aspect of any adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" is the portrayal of the Christmas spirits. Lynn Label's chain-ladened apparition of Jacob Marley was spot on, although I'm not sure how her voice held up through all four performances.

If the Guinness Book of Records had a category for tallest Ghost of Christmas Past, it would go hands down to Parisa Brown-Yazdani who, at 6' 1" or 6' 2", towered over the cowering Scrooge.

Julia Bucar did a good job as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Gordo Smith added a new twist to the Ghost of Christmas Future by gliding around the stage on rollerblades.

I particularly enjoyed Sam Loveridge's performance of Scrooge as a young man, and Kaera Griffin, who played Scrooge's fiancee Bella, did an excellent job as well. Ditto for Tara Yetts, who played Scrooge's charwoman Liza Dilber, and Ian McGregor who played old Joe.

Other performances that stood out include Gordon Watts' portrayal of Scrooge's nephew Fred and Arras Hopkins as Bob Crachit. Tyler Smith, Melinda Theriault and Brianna Budge-Bolduc also did a stellar job as the plays' narrators.

The rest of the cast included Alexus White as Abigail; Hannah Beatty, who played Scrooge as a young boy; Collette Budge as Mrs. Crachit; Shae-Lyne Beiersdorfer as Mary Crachit; Sophia Hullin as Grace Crachit; Biz MacDonald as Bertha Bumble; Sam MacDonals as Agatha; Elyse Gauthier as the paper boy and Madison Bellini as Tiny Tim.

Hannah Beatty, Elyse Gauthier and Sophia Hullin did douible duty in the chorus which also included Alex Wells-McGregor, Emily Lebel, Rebecca Lebel, Hannah Decker and Caleb Budge-Bolduc.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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