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Photos: A CHRISTMAS CAROL Extended at Open Stage!

Now playing through January 3.

Since the year 2000, Open Stage has produced A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens most famous novel, and arguably the most famous redemption story in all of literature. It has consistently been the most produced adapted work in American theatre, and Open Stage celebrated the 20th anniversary production in December, 2019.

Like most theatres across the country, Open Stage has halted in-person performances, and has made steps to make the entire season online, easily accessible, and free.

The show relies heavily on elements of clowning, puppetry, live sound effects, and storytelling, making this particular production a very different experience for patrons, who may be used to seeing a cast of thirty-plus actors on the stage. In the 2020 production, the cast includes three performers (who have been living and working in their own "bubble" as the term has been coined in Covid-times).

Rachel Landon, who has acted in and directed various productions at Open stage since 2017, has also adapted this year's script for A Christmas Carol.

"Nicholas Hughes, a literal legend in the Central Pa theatre community, has played our Scrooge since A Christmas Carol was first produced in 2000. It was heartbreaking to think of him not involved in our production this year."

But Landon had an epiphany while adapting the script for their three-person cast, which included herself and staff members Benny Benamati and Chris Gibson. "As I was adapting our production for Season 35. I chatted with Dr. Ellen Stockstill of Pennsylvania State University. She teaches literature and loves Charles Dickens as much as I do. We discussed how Dickens would travel around the world to perform one-man readings of his works, and the audience favorite was A Christmas Carol. I reread the book for maybe the hundredth time, and I believe I could actually envision Dickens reading this highly entertaining, beautiful, funny and heartbreaking work out loud for his audiences. I thought, why couldn't Nick be our Charles Dickens this time around?"

The staff was able to host Mr. Hughes to pre-record a narrative on the stage at 25 North Court street, where the theatre has resided for over 25 years. "The actors could, in a way, have Nick in the room with us. And, I think Dickens would highly approve of the way he reads it."

The rest of the show is highly theatrical, having only three actors play a bevy of characters - over thirty, in fact. In addition, the actors perform all of their sound effects live through the art of Foley sound - a technique often found in radio theatre and in post-production sound design in film. The set is bright, ethereal, and littered with noise-making toys and gadgets, and the costumes remain the same throughout the entire show. The actors rely on vocal choices and physicality to establish their characters - including the infamous Ebenezer Scrooge.

"After talking with Dr. Stockstill, something really struck me. She said that we shouldn't mistake Scrooge to only represent the wealthy and privileged of the world. Scrooge is any of us. Anyone who has been knocked about by life, and experienced triumphs and tragedies. Anyone who has ever felt angry or jaded at the world. I think that makes his redemption so much more powerful to think of him that way. So I'm very glad that we decided to have each actor take a turn at playing Scrooge throughout the show."

This highly unique, fast-paced, and thoughtful adaptation can be streamed online through January 3. And while the shows are free to anyone who would like to watch, you can support the theatre by making a donation or joining the subscription service, The Inner Circle, at openstagehbg.com.


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