Same story but different telling in local theater’s ‘Christmas Carol’

The cast for the Hill Country Community Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” includes Kellan Koch (left), Martha Good, Gus Henry, Glen Bird, Patrick Lescarbeau, Grace Ann Todd, Ocean Fillingim and Cindy Callihan. The adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic runs Dec. 4-14 at the theater, 4003 FM 2147 in Cottonwood Shores. Courtesy photo

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

COTTONWOOD SHORES — Charles Dickens’ story “A Christmas Carol” is brought to life every holiday season on theater stages across the country. And why not? Both the book and the play give a great lesson about Christmas.

But we all know it, so why do it again?

“Well, first, people just love it,” said Mike Rademaekers, the executive director of Hill Country Community Theatre. “It’s one of those stories we all know so well but still means a lot to us.”

The theater cast and crew are tackling the production Dec. 4-14 but taking the story in a different direction, one that requires the audience to add a good dose of their own imagination.

“A Christmas Carol” by Christopher Schario is adapted from Dickens’ book but starts off differently than the traditional story.

“It opens with a boy reading the book for the very first time,” Rademaekers said. “But as he’s reading the book, the story begins taking place behind him.”

And as the characters come to life behind the boy, he gets up and becomes part of the story himself.

One of the great things about this particular production, Radamaekers said, is it was written and designed for a small cast and a small community theater.

“It’s not a cast of hundreds,” he said. “In fact, only one actor, who plays Scrooge, has one role. So it’s a pretty small cast.”

Along with that, the set design is rather simplistic compared to other productions. That’s a benefit to the audience as well as the cast and stage crew.

“Because of this particular style, it really allows the audience’s imagination to take over,” Rademaekers said. “Another thing really unique about this play is (Christopher Schario) used a lot of the original language from the book.”

Of course, the story is only part of the play. To pull it off takes a great cast led by an equally talented director.

The cast includes Patrick Lescarbeau (Scrooge), Gus Henry and Kellan Koch (dual casted as Actor No. 1, Schoolboy, Dick Wilkins, Tiny Tim and Turkey Boy), Glen Bird (Actor No. 2, Bob Cratchit, Marley’s Ghost, Fezziwig and Old Joe), Ocean Fillingim (Actor No. 3, Fay, Christmas Present, Peter Cratchit), Grace Ann Todd (Actor No. 4, Gentlewoman No. 1, Fan, Mrs. Fezziwig, Belle, Martha and Laundress), Cindy Callihan (Actor No. 5, Gentlewoman No. 2, Christmas Past, Mrs. Cratchit and Charwoman), Martha Good (Townsperson), Mia Pineda (Townsperson) and Spencer Stephens (Fiddler). Tomey McGowen will serve as stage manager.

Another unique aspect of the play is the fiddler. Rademaekers said the fiddle music helps tie the entire production together.

“The music is incredible.” he said. “There are the traditional Christmas songs, but there’s also some traditional English folk tunes.”

Leading this cast and setting the artistic vision is the director, Bridget Farias Gates.

“We’re so lucky to get her,” Rademaekers said as he began rattling off a list of her accomplishments and her background. She holds degrees in acting and directing from Texas State University in San Marcos and studied two summers with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England. She is currently the artistic direct for the EmilyAnn Theatre & Gardens in Wimberley.

As an actor, Gates has worked with the City Theatre, ZACH, the Scottish Rite Children’s Theatre, Austin Shakespeare, Troupe Texas, the Baron’s Men and the Trinity Street Players.

“This is going to be a truly magical holiday show for families and people of all ages,” Gates said.

Rademaekers agreed.

“This is one of those rare plays and stories that everybody can identify with,” he said. “I think that’s one of the reasons it’s remained so popular — in all its forms — over the years.”

The theater will present “A Christmas Carol” on Dec. 4-14 with performances at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays and a matinee at 2:15 p.m. Sundays. Admission is $20 for adults and $10 for children and students with valid identification.

Reservations may be made by calling (830) 798-8944, visiting www.thehcct.org or going to the box office (noon-4 p.m. Monday-Friday). Tickets go on sale Nov. 24 for theater members and Nov. 26 for the general public.

The theater is located at 4003 FM 2147 West in Cottonwood Shores.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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