“A Territorial Christmas Carol” is Indeed A Traditional Treasure!!!
In the past thirty years folks living in this region of been enchanted by “A Territorial Christmas Carol” at the Pollard Theatre. This show opens on the Friday after Thanksgiving and this year that will be November 24, 2017. The show continues on through December 23, 2017 and it certainly is a nice way to create the true spirit of Christmas. For nearly twenty of these memorable years the part of Ebenezer Scrooge is played by James Ong, a master in his craft. This year will be Ong’s final year as Scrooge, and while 2018 may have an excellent Scrooge to carry on, it is Ong’s performance that will always be heralded as the performance that sets the standard.
The production will have the same cast in all of the adult roles as last year, although the children from the community who are cast will be different. The opportunity to perform for young budding actors is an excellent experience, and the Pollard traditionally uses two casts for the children. That allows more children to have the chance to perform and also cuts down on the long rehearsal and performance evenings for all the children.
While “A Territorial Christmas Carol” has evolved over the years as it has been refined and changed to suit the needs of the community, the 2017 show will be much the same as the 2016 version. It seems to be an excellent time to revisit the review from last year, and here it is:
“A Territorial Christmas Carol” is A Traditional Treasure!!!
Once again the Pollard Theatre delivers with an amazing version of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. The adaptation by Stephen P. Scott makes this classic tale the ideal tradition. Set in the original capital of Oklahoma Territory; Guthrie, Dickens tells the poignant story of the Cratchit family and Scrooge to the young settler, William Moody. With his fond parents, Ben and Elizabeth Moody, looking on they are all miraculously transported into the story. “A Territorial Christmas Carol” is a favorite for visitors who come for the Victorian Walk on Saturday, December 3rd and then enjoy the play in their Victorian finery.
This production is comforting and familiar, but each year brings a fresh new vision with simple, subtle changes. W. Jerome Stevenson directs some new faces as well as known, beloved faces and remembered scary faces such as James Ong as Ebenezer Scrooge. Ong is the perfect Scrooge–a mean spirited miser who has lost his human connections and yet retains a spark of humanity. Timothy Stewart delivers Charles Dickens, (Charlie to his territorial friends) smoothly and believably. He gently reminds us of our first introduction to Dickens and the love affair with an author we read long ago.
James A. Hughes as Ben and Megan Montgomery as Elizabeth Moody become Mr. and Mrs. Bob Cratchit once again with grace and integrity. The Moody’s and the Cratchit’s are similar although set in different circumstances demonstrated convincingly by Hughes and Montgomery. Michael James is William Moody, the last child still at home. In moments he reveals a boyish imp ready to become a man. Then, he transitions to Peter, the reliable eldest boy in the Cratchit family, effortlessly. Joined by daughters Martha and Belinda and, of course the unforgettable Tiny Tim the Cratchit family is complete. James, alongside Alex Simpson as Martha and Ella Latham as Belinda blend with an adorable heart-tugging Jaxon Pickens as Tiny Tim. They are all members of the Cast A children. Cast B children play on alternate nights and, while their performances are unique, they are just as smooth as Cast A. However, any patron wishing to see a particular child should inform the box office so their reservations can be made for the right performance.
A talented new face is Ellie Valdez in various roles but most memorably the Widow Brown. Emily Frances Brown is again the beautiful and fun-loving Niece, as well as the sincere and patient Belle. Joshua McGowen is the Nephew of Scrooge, determined to honor the old grouch, and then he becomes the young Scrooge in love with Belle. Again we find complementary characters that convey distinct personalities. McGowen also has a bit of fun as the Undertaker! Trinity Goodwin also has multiple parts handled with ease but each year it is Christmas Past that is thoroughly stunning. Her beauty and grace are phenomenal. Jared Blount has several diverse and interesting roles performed with skill, but the Ghost of Christmas Present is especially remarkable and eerie.
Hughes and Montgomery also have additional roles. The funniest fun is Hughes as Mr. Fezziweg! And, while the Scrooge from Ong and the Tiny Tim from young Pickens (Cast A) and Ireland Riley (Cast B) are the glue that holds this tale together, it is the ghost of Marley that is scary, chilly and unforgettable, chaining us to our seats. Dakota Muckelrath is new to the part, but brings an old soul to the role with intensity and Marley remains the frightening apparition of nightmares. He also appears as John Kettle, as well as an injured Veteran with a disarming aplomb.
Everyone appreciates the charm of this production; however, they do use a fog machine to enhance ghostly visitations and such. Those who are sensitive or allergic will find the show just as charming from the seventh row and beyond. The foggy fumes don’t reach so far, but the story will!
Set, lighting and costumes are accurate, intricate and interesting, as usual. Stevenson has a knack with these characters and crew that Charles Dickens would appreciate as much as ‘Charlie’ does. “A Territorial Christmas Carol” brings for 29 years in 30 seasons the best parts in Oklahoma hearts.
“A Territorial Christmas Carol” is showing at the Pollard Theatre located in downtown Guthrie awash in Victorian Christmas themes and architecture. Curtain is at 8:00 o’clock evenings, with a 2:00 Matinee time. Teachers should consider one of the special daytime Matinees scheduled specifically for school groups. For information visit www.thepollard.org or call 405-282-2800. The Pollard Theatre at 120 W. Harrison Avenue is a great way to celebrate Christmas through December 23, 2016.