Adapted version of holiday story runs through Dec. 28
By Kalene Mccort, for Boulder Daily Camera (Read the original.)
Before folks crowded around the TV to see if Ralphie would indeed get his Red Ryder BB Gun in “A Christmas Story” or to view what antics would occur after Cameron Diaz and Kate Winslet did a cross-continental home swap in “The Holiday,” they rejoiced in the Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.” This seasonal story of bad-guy-turned-good-guy has been adapted by Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company and is on stage at the Dairy Arts Center through Dec. 28.
“People love that the production uses so much of Dickens’ eloquent and elegant language,” said Rebecca Remaly, BETC’s co-founder and managing director who adapted the time-honored novella. “They also love that it comes in just under 90 minutes, so it’s an excellent outing for ages 6 to 106. There’s live music, it’s sometimes scary, sometimes funny and always fun and festive.”
In this version, audiences can still take in the comic characteristics of the shackled ghost of Scrooge’s ex-business partner Jacob Marley and a frightfully hooded Grim Reaper-esque Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Be.
“I did add little touches here and there to evoke the passage of time and to establish some of the characters earlier on in the story,” Remaly said. “And there is music throughout, mostly a cappella, with a little live instrumental music thrown in, too. What would Christmas be without music? It’s an adaptation that I hope would make Mr. Dickens proud.”
Longtime Colorado-based actor Sam Sandoe, a Shakespeare Festival veteran, embodies the lead misanthrope who eventually is lit up by the Christmas spirit.
“We have two casts of children, so they can alternate rehearsals and performances to lighten the load,” Remaly said. “My 7-year-old son — with producing artistic director Stephen Weitz — Jamison is playing one of our Tiny Tims. It’s his first on-stage experience, and I’ve loved seeing him blossom in his role.”
This isn’t the first time BETC has brought a yuletide offering to the stage. In 2008, the group kicked off a successful 10-year run of David Sedaris’ hilariously witty “The SantaLand Diaries” — a show that chronicles the satirical author’s stint as a shopping mall elf.
“After ‘SantaLand’ moved to Denver, we twice produced ‘Every Christmas Story Ever Told (and then some!),’ a three-person romp that honors and skewers our holiday traditions and tales,” Remaly said.
Last year, BETC produced “Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley,” a sequel to Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
“We’re thrilled to bring ‘A Christmas Carol’ to Boulder, and to start a new local holiday tradition,” Remaly said.
From the Grinch to Billy Bob Thornton’s portrayal of Willie in “Bad Santa,” people can’t seem to get enough of curmudgeons relinquishing their cynical sides and embracing compassion. Making wrongs right is a theme about as synonymous with Christmas as blinged-out sweaters and spiked eggnog.
“A story of true redemption will always resonate with humankind,” Remaly said. “It’s in our nature when we are born to trust and believe in each other, and for many of us, that trust and sense of empathy erodes over the years.”
Beneath the visits from spirits, strong English accents and eventual joyful merriment lies a story about the significance of second and third chances and the unrelenting power of forgiveness.
“’A Christmas Carol’ reminds us what’s truly important in this world — family, love, kindness — and it encourages us to keep trying, to work to be better people today than we were the day before,” Remaly said. “We all have the power to make the world a better place.”
If you go
What: BETC’s “A Christmas Carol”
When: Multiple dates through Dec. 28
Where: Dairy Arts Center, Grace Gamm Theater, 2590 Walnut St., Boulder
Cost: $22.50- $38
More info: betc.org