Marilynn Jordan, Armand LeSage, Gaye Gamble-Heisler and Michael Brewer as seen in last year’s production of A Christmas Carol.
A Christmas Carol: A tale of redemption
By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
This holiday season at the Twin Peaks Community Center, the Heisler Theater Company production of Charles Dicken’s story, A Christmas Carol, will be presented from Dec. 20 through the 24th at 7:30 p.m.
This is the seventh year of the Heisler Theater Company producing the play, in several different venues over the years. At this new theater location, patrons will be able to purchase dinner before the play, if they wish; wine and beer will also be available for purchase.
A Christmas Carol was written as a novella by Charles Dickens and was published in London by Chapman & Hall on Dec. 19, 1843. Dickens became known for writing Christmas stories; this was the fourth one he wrote.
Considered one of his most famous stories, A Christmas Carol recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After their visits, Scrooge is transformed into a kinder, gentler man with concern for his fellow man. It is a story of redemption, as Scrooge becomes more compassionate, even becoming a like a father figure to Cratchit’s youngest son, Tiny Tim.
Before the show each night there will be Christmas carol singing by the cast and a special singer each night as a soloist, such as local well-known singer Rachel Murray. Each evening the play will open with the lovely voice of Dana Merola singing “O Holy Night.”
This year’s cast includes: Ebenezer Scrooge, Jeff Heisler; Charles Dickens, Phil Simmons; Marley’s Ghost, Armand LeSage; First Spirit, Marcel Machler; Second Spirit, Dana Merola; Third Spirit, Gaye Gamble Heisler; Nephew Fred, Christopher Marin; Belle, Sophia Frazer; Young Scrooge, Samm Starr; Bob Cratchit, Alan McNeil; Mrs. Cratchit, Shari Spencer; Fezziwig, Armand LeSage; Lamb, Dana Merola; Poole, Gaye Gamble Heisler; Fan, Cadence O’Brien; Kate, Star Bennett; Tiny Tim Cratchit, Anthony Arrona Jr.; Peter Cratchit, Alex May; Martha Cratchit, Cadence O’Brien; Belinda Cratchit, Hannah Davis; Frederick Cratchit, Kalysta Arrona; Harriet, Gwen Watson; Mr. Dilmer, Samm Starr; Charwoman, Marilynn Jordan; Buck, Alex May; Businessmen, Armand LeSage, Marcel Machler; Doorstep Woman, Shari Spencer; Undertaker’s Assistant, Hannah Davis; Old Joe, Stephen Sandlin; the Shrouded Corpse, Samm Starr.
There have been some casting changes of this live production of A Christmas Carol over the years, including the Cratchit children growing up into bigger roles, as they enjoy the Heisler Theater experience. This year the role of Peter Cratchit is played by the actor who used to play the part of Tiny Tim. This year’s Tiny Tim is a 7-year-old treasure, who is melting the hearts of everyone in rehearsals. There are six Cratchit children in this production. Many of the adult roles are filled by long-time Heisler Theater Company cast members in returning roles.
Director Jeff Heisler said the show is coming together sooner than usual in the rehearsal schedule since so many are returning cast members who were already proficient in their roles. “This year’s show will be magnificent,” added Heisler.
Since this is a totally different configured stage than they used last year in Crestline, many things had to be rebuilt or redesigned for this production. The behind-the-scenes experts that make the show shine are directors of lights and sound Hunter Warrick and Matthew Merola; wardrobe wizard Gwen Meshorer; stage manager Sophia Frazer; atmospherics engineers Phil Simmons and assistant Alex May; stage design and construction Alan McNeil; assistant director Gaye Gamble Heisler.
Tickets are available at www.Heislertheater.com, $20 for adults, $10 for teens, children under 12 free but all must be ticketed so there are enough seats in the theater. Some shows are already sold out. There is a dinner and show package deal, with choices of small bites or a full meal on the website when buying your tickets. Dinner prices range from $6 to $12 and bites and snacks from $1 to $15. There will also be local craft beers and wines for sale, plus an Italian soda bar. The proceeds from the beer and wine bar support rehabilitation programs for local veterans through the Elder Warrior program, in a collaboration with SoCal Beer.