Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, and a cast of over 60 performers are currently on stage at the very comfortable Sitnik Theatre in Hackettstown in the The Centenary Stage Company’s delightful production of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Christmas Carol. This is the same musical production from the Broadway team of Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens with the story by Mike Okrent and Lynn Ahrens that played every December for ten years in Madison Square Garden.
Their creation is a 90 minute condensed version of the standard non-musical Dicken’s story, not as dark as the original with bright joyful music…Scrooge and company should not frighten any young people, while the tuneful music and spirited cast of seasoned lead actors and an energetic ensemble of students from the Centenary drama program and the CSC’s Young Performers Workshop will please all but a modern day Ebenezer. Bottom line…you will leave the theatre with the proper joyous holiday spirit.
One of the musical highlights is the visit of the ghost of Jacob Marley (Dave Scheffler) to Scrooge’s bed chamber. It becomes a large-scale musical production number (“Link By Link”), featuring a half-dozen singing, dancing spirits presented with various levels of makeup and special effects. Scrooge’s big number is “Nothing to Do With Me”, when he first encounters the three ghosts of Christmas in their real-world guises as a lamplighter (Past), a sandwichboard man (Present), and a blind beggar woman (Future).
Michael Bevins, Program Director of the Young Performers Workshop, is both the director and choreographer of this charming production. Leading Bevins’ cast are; Broadway veteran Osborn Focht as Scrooge, he was Bill Sykes in the CSC’s Oliver! last season. Focht makes a perfect Scrooge with the bonus of a fine singing voice. He is supported by an impressive group of New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania talent led by James Nester as Bob Cratchit, Dave Scheffler as Marley, Steven Bidwell as the Ghost of Christmas Present, the always excellent Lea Antolini (Professor of theatre and dance) as the Ghost of Christmas Past, part of the family of CSC staffers who are in the show: Carl Wallnau, the CSC Artistic Director as the Beadle, General Manager Catherine Rust as Scrooge’s housekeeper Mrs. Mops, Alycia Kunkle as Mrs. Cratchit, and the versatile Maria Brodeur as Granny Pickwick, the Charwoman and the Wealthy Person. Maria demonstrated her acting versatility also last season when she shined in three very different Centenary Stage productions; Oliver, How To Pray and Prisoner of Second Avenue.
Also in the cast; Andy Nussbaum as Tiny Tim, Nick Ardito as the Poulterer, plus, Stephanie Lucy Reyes, Megan Corcoran, John Schrum, Caitlin White, Christine DeFrece, Katherine de Koninck, Virginia Erianne, Erik Gaden, Deborah Heagen, Jeremy William Hilgert, Sarah Lichty, Amanda Maxfield, and Alex Maxwell. A dancing standout is a Centenary student, Saquan Williams, who serves as the Dance Captain.
Here are the cast members from CSC’s Young Performers Workshop:Christy Ackerman, Jenna Black, Cydney Black, Andy Calderone, Zack Clark, Jared Cowley, McKenzie Custin, Jessica DeFort, Emily Devine, Zoe Durst, Alex Evans, Neil Ianniello, Daniel Marion, Montana Marsilio, Erin Martire, Lexie Miller, Erica Murphy, Andrew Nussbaum (Tiny Tim), Suzannah Nussbaum (Martha Cratchit), Raphael Pelczmann, Victoria Pulido, Hannah Schroeder, Anthony Sica, Christina Stanton, Brittany Weinstein, Anthony Zas, and Dennis Zuravlev.
Key production credits: Carl Wallnau and Catherine Rust Producers, Alex Maxwell Associate Director, Julia Sharp costumes, Ed Matthews Light Design, and Jackie Mariani Production Stage Manager. James Russo and Christopher Prechtl as Assistant Stage Managers.
Music/Orchestra: Kevin Lynch Musical Director with Chris Connolly, Dan Traglia, Joseph Mankin, Kaitlyn Fay, Sarah Culp, Shire Feingold, Stacey McCaffery and Sue On.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, is running through Dec 11 in the Sitnik Theater of the David and Carol Lackland Center in Hackettstown, New Jersey.
Reviewed by Rick Busciglio November 26, 2011
Tickets for A Christmas Carol may be purchased online at www.centenarystageco.org or by calling the Box Office at (908)979-0900. Performances for A Christmas Carol are Thursdays at 7:30pm (“Family Night”, with 2/1 “rush” ticket prices available at the door) , Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2 PM, Wednesday, Nov 30 @2pm and Wed. Dec 7 at 10 am (school matinee). Prices range between $22.50 and $27.50 with discounts for seniors and students.
The Centenary Stage Company is a not-for-profit professional equity theatre, in residence at Centenary College, dedicated to serving as a cultural resource for audiences of the Skylands Region with professional music, theatre and dance events and arts education programs throughout the year.
Programs at the Centenary Stage Company are made possible in part through the visionary support of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the NJ State Council on the Arts and The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation, CSC Premium sponsors Heath Village and Fulton Bank (formerly Skylands Community Bank), as well as sponsors Marriot Residence Inn and Hackettstown Regional Medical Center, Mama’s and Café Baci and CSC’s supporting members.