The spirit of Christmas awaits you–and a few more spirits–at Northport’s John W. Engeman Theater this holiday season. Now through January 6, 2013, a new twist on the holiday classic, A Christmas Carol-A Ghost Story of Christmas, delights audiences both young and old. Set in London in the 19th Century, Michael Wilson’s adaptation is a creative re-telling of Charles Dickens’ classic tale about Ebenezer Scrooge, the selfish and miserly protagonist played by Wilbur Edwin Henry. Scrooge has become a common English term for a miserly person. More than 30 characters appear in this production, which has a twist or two on the classic. Mark Adam Rampmeyer, the director of this unique adaptation, also directed 42nd Street at Engeman and has spent 35 years working in the professional theatrical community with such amazing talents as Olympia Dukakis, Lynn Redgrave, Jean Stapleton, and Hank Azaria. He is the recipient of a Drama Desk award for Horton Foote’s Orphans’ Home Cycle at Signature Theater.
Director Rampmeyer was recently interviewed, please see http://villagetattler.com/2012/11/19/the-directors-sneak-preview-of-a-christmas-carol-a-ghost-story-of-christmas/ and offered a glimpse into what makes this version of A Christmas Carol different from all the others that you have already seen througout the years. According to Rampmeyer, “the adaption by Michael Wilson is what makes this production unique. It stays true to the book and all those classic moments that we remember, but what this version does is makes us pay attention again. In this adaption Michael Wilson isn’t afraid to make the story fun. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, and I think it’s not what you’re expecting.” The play is filled with humor and reminders that it’s just a fun ghost tale, even though it has a serious message of redemption.
The play opens up with several very spooky apparitions (actors who are masked) who appear in the audience and are played by Evan Teich, Christopher Robert Duffy, Caitlin Mesiano, Maryellen Molfetta, Ariana Valdes, and Paul Velutis. And then, we see Scrooge in his bed surrounded by the apparitions and it is Act 1, Christmas Eve, seven years after his business partner, Jacob Marley, has died. Through his encounters with various ghosts who endeavor to teach him a few things, Scrooge learns what will happen if he continues living his life the same heartless and unkind way. All of Dickens’ well-known characters appear in this version, such as Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. The Spirit of Christmas Present is played by Michael James Leslie; the Spirit of Christmas Past by Barbara Marineau; and the Spirit of Christmas Future by Jason Liles.
When he has finally learned all the important lessons, Scrooge says, “Death is the subject of your lesson, and it is death I must learn. I will change my life. The Spirit of Past, Present, and Future will stay within me.” The Scrooge that wakes up invites everyone to his house for a Christmas Party and some Christmas cheer. And although everyone thinks he’s gone mad, Scrooge says, “I’ve come to my senses.” He then relieves everyone of their debts to him, and promises to raise the salary of Bob Cratchit and pay for Tiny Tim to get the best doctors so he can get well again.
The set is incredible, spooky and period-perfect, with a bridge running across the top, and credit needs to go to scenic designer Jonathan Collins (The Kravis Center’s premiere production of Divorce Party and Engeman’s I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change). Period costumes by Ryan J. Moller (also for Engeman’s I Love you, You’re Perfect, Now Change and Assistant design for Santa Fe Opera’s La Boheme) bring the audience into the 19th Century with ease. Hair and Makeup by Brandalyn Fulton are also notable. The costumes, hair, makeup and set reminded me of the movies of Tim Burton, the American film director and producer who is known for his dark and quirky movies such as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Sweeney Todd, and Alice in Wonderland.
Engeman’s holiday production is entertaining and inspires you to do good onto others this holiday season and get into the spirit of giving. Notes Rampmeyer, “A Christmas Carol is very near and dear to my heart. As a family we would read this together, it makes you feel like a kid again seeing it on stage. I love Christmas and all that this season represents. It is a celebration of family and togetherness. This is really is going to be a Holiday gift from our family at the John W. Engeman Theater to yours.”
A CHRISTMAS CAROL – A Ghost Story of Christmas will play the following performance schedule through January 6, 2013:
Wednesdays through Fridays at 8:00 p.m.;
Saturdays at 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.;
Sundays at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
In addition, there will be added performances on Wednesday, December 19 at 2:00pm and Wednesday, December 26 at 2:00pm.
Tickets are ON SALE and are $65. Tickets may be purchased by calling (631) 261-2900, by visiting www.engemantheater.com, or at the Engeman Theater Box Office at 250 Main Street, Northport.