A Christmas Carol, adaptation by Sally Filkins from the novella by Charles Dickens. Directed by Sally Filkins and Judy McNutt.
Reviewed by J. Peter Bergman
"...it might be pleasant for them to remember..."
The Voices Theatre Company has done many versions of Charles Dickens’s "A Christmas Carol" over the years including several penned by this author. In her current adaptation of the tale there are many elements recognizable, drawn from concepts of my own. That she has made them her own and that they are still shared with audiences around Berkshire County are not to be wondered at, for they are elements that she clearly enjoyed and still enjoys performing.
This year Voices is working in conjunction with BCC Players to present two weekends of performances in a wide variety of venues in Pittsfield, Dalton and North Adams. Her company of players consists of Drama students from the community college, actors from her own company as well as actors, and non-actors, from the broader region. Many of these players bring exciting new elements to the work.
Diedre Devere Bollinger, for example, takes on the roles of Scrooge’s nephew Fred and the ghost of Jacob Marley. Bollinger is an experienced actress and she brings an unusual amount of talent to this effort. Her Fred is young, boyish, exuberant, but still a man to be reckoned with at any cost. Her Marley is deeply moving and equally deeply affected by his own disastrous life. That she also sings well enough to bring about the closure Scrooge needs to his personal history with her rendition of "In the Bleak Midwinter" is wonderful. When she breaks out of her manly roles to take on the soft and sensitive Ghost of Christmas Past, she bears the role with beauty.
Marie Allocca grabs onto the more matronly assets of Mrs. Cratchit boldly. She brings a soft security to her damnation of Scrooge and a fine fragility to the image of the mourning mother. Newcomer Jeremy Gray does what he can with the role of her husband, Bob Cratchit, but the contrast between these two is almost too striking.
Alex Martinez who plays Tiny Tim with a physical anguish that is almost unbearable takes on the role of Christmas Future with the best "hand" I’ve ever seen for this character while Dana Grieb as the Ghost of Christmas Present stands tall and proud and proves herself to be a force of nature.
Many members of Filkins’ company appear in roles that suit them admirably. Jane Skorput reprises Fezziwig and a Cratchit child with gusto. Tia Maria MacQuesten does the Lad quite well and her Old Joe is startling. Judy McNutt does some elegant caroling as different girls and women and makes each one a definitive character.
Charlie Wright is Ebenezer Scrooge. He has done this role many times in many ways, but this time he is definitely Scrooge. He has never played the role more successfully.
This is only one of many versions of this book playing throughout the region. For tickets and information on their schedule, call BCC’s Student Life line at 413-236-1660. The joint company is performing this show as a fund-raiser for "Maurice Alexander, a 9-month old baby with an inoperable cancerous brain tumor." It’s a gift, you might say. You’d be right.
How The Other Half Loves continues its performances at the Ghent Playhouse, Town Hall Place in Ghent, NY, through Sunday, April 6. For information and tickets contact the playhouse at 1-800-838-3006 or ghentplayhouse.org.