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There is No Christmas Tradition like Taking in “A Christmas Carol” at the Cygnet Theatre

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TR Robertson

TR Robertson …Every person and family that celebrates Christmas have traditions around the holiday that are unique to them. Those traditions range from foods to decorations to special events they always want to take part in at this time of year. For many, seeing some version of “A Christmas Carol” is one of those special events many always want to put on their to do list for the holidays. Dicken’s

classic Christmas story has been performed and produced more than any other Christmas tale and the live theatre production, performed each year at Old Town’s Cygnet Theatre, has become part of many people’s holiday tradition.
Photos by Ken Jacques
What makes this production so appealing for many is the return of most of the cast, most of whom have previously performed in the play. The result is a play which flows easily with actors/actresses very familiar with one another and love acting in this particular play. As the audience wandered into the Cygnet, the sounds of Christmas carols, sung by the cast, greets everyone as well as a plethora of cute holiday jokes; such as “Why did Santa go down the chimney, because it soot’s him”. This part of the performance is finished off with the audience going in singing and acting out the different parts to “The 12 Days of Christmas”.
The talented and award winning cast consisted of Tom Stephenson returning as Edenezer Scrooge. Stephenson was awarded Actor of the Year in 2014 by the San Diego Theatre Circle. All of the other actors/actresses played a number of roles in the play. Patrick McBride played Cratchit, Fezziwig, and others. McBride is also returning to Cygnet. Returning to “A Christmas Carol” is Melissa Fernandes, this year playing Mrs. Cratchit, Mrs. Dilbur, a solicitor and others.
She was selected as the San Diego Critics Circle Female Actor of the Year in 2016. Melissa also performed an over the top part of “The 12 Days of Christmas” with the line “6 geese a laying”.
You would have to be there to see what I mean. Also returning is Melinda Gilb as Mrs. Fezziwig, a solicitor, Belinda Cratchit and others. Belinda won a Craig Noel Award for Best Actress for the role of Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd”. Charles Evans, Jr. returns as young Scrooge, Peter Cratchit, and others. This is his
4th straight year in this performance. David McBean returns in his  impressive portrayal of the ghost of Marley and the spirit of Christmas Present. McBean won the San Diego Critic’s Circle Craig Noel award for his performance in “Fully Committed”. The newest member of the cast was Katie Sapper who portrayed Martha Cratchit, Belle and handled many of the puppets in the play as a street child, an urchin and assisted Patrick McBride with Tiny Tim.The actors/actresses also handled many of the sound effects used in the play which ranged from opening and closing doors, horses hooves, rattling chains and much more.
This is a stellar cast and one of the reasons so many of the patrons return to see “A Christmas Carol” and so many choose to see it for the first time. Another reason is the presentation of the play as put together by Sean Murray who directed and adapted the play and a talented production staff. Musical score was designed by Billy Thompson. All of the music was performed/accompanied by Patrick Marion. Choreography was handled by Katie Whalley
Banville, set designs by Andrew Hall, wonderful period costumes by Jeanne Reith, wigs and make-up by Peter Herman, lighting by Kyle Montgomery and sound by Matt Lescault-Wood.
The puppets used for the children in the play were designed by Michael McKeon, Lynne Jennings and Rachel Hengst.

When Charles Dickens published his novella in 1843, entitled “A Christmas Carol In Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas”, I’m sure he had no idea this story would be one of the most produced and adapted stories of all time. Legend has it that Dickens would walk over 20 miles   some days, jotting down ideas for the tale and gather names for the story. Supposedly, EdenezerScrooge was modeled after John Elwes, the owner of the Gloucester Bank, as he was known as“The Gloucester Miser”. Many consider the tale a Christian allegory while others simply say it is a story of how we should really celebrate Christmas. Dickens certainly had a social conscience when he wrote the story as he included his personal feelings about the plight of the poor of England, the working conditions children suffered, the conditions the coal miners suffered and of course a simple story of how we should treat each other. England was also going through an
examination of Christmas traditions, old and new, such as sending Christmas cards and putting up Christmas trees.
The first public reading of “A Christmas Carol” occurred in 1852 in the Town Hall of Birmingham, England, as it was read to a gathering of the Industrial and Literary Institute. The novella was divided into 5 chapters, or staves. Performances of the novella would begin in the late 19th century in England by Seymour Hick, as he performed a one man show. Patrick Stewart would perform the play this way in 1988. The first radio broadcast of the play was in 1923 on
WNYC in New York City. The play has also been adapted into operas and over 20 movies have been produced about the novella, beginning with silent films between 1901 and 1910. There have also been movie adaptations using Disney characters like Mickey Mouse, a movie using the Muppets, and Bill Murray’s “Scrooged”. The novella appeared on Broadway in 1994 as a musical at the Paramount Theatre in Madison Square Garden. Numerous live television
performances and DVD’s have also appeared, some using the Flintstones, Bugs Bunny, and the Smurfs in animated versions.
Needless to say, this classic tale of the transformation of a miserly old man, taking a look as his past, his present and his possible future has touched many people and is a big part of their holiday season. You too can take in “A Christmas Carol”, at the Cygnet Theatre in San Diego’s Old Town.
Go to www.cygnettheatre.com or call 619-337-1525 for ticket information. The play will run until December 24th . Next up for Cygnet is the San Diego premiere of “The Last Wife” by Kate Hennig beginning on January 17th.
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  • Published: 10 months ago on December 8, 2017
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  • Last Modified: December 8, 2017 @ 12:46 am
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