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BWW Review: A QUARANTINE CHRISTMAS CAROL EXPERIENCE at Fairfield Center Stage

A QUARANTINE CHRISTMAS CAROL EXPERIENCE 2020

BWW Review: A QUARANTINE CHRISTMAS CAROL EXPERIENCE at Fairfield Center Stage

I had the pleasure of streaming Fairfield Center Stage's production of A QUARANTINE CHRISTMAS CAROL EXPERIENCE. The innovative creativity from Fairfield Center Stage continues to mesmerize audiences with its ability to showcase a myriad of talented cast members and maximize available resources, even during this time of social distancing. Yet again, Fairfield Center Stage has dared to go that extra mile undertaking a project more grandiose than that which many companies would even consider, and in doing so has again excelled in bringing the audience a phenomenal unique experience that we would not get anywhere else!

Artistic Director Christy-McIntosh Newsom has reimagined this classic Charles Dickens story in the modern day, literally in 2020, complete with social distancing restrictions and video conferencing, while still capturing the essence of the Charles Dickens original.

This is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Steve Benko), a curmudgeonly old man whose love of money has severed his compassion for his fellow human beings, whether they are strangers in need, employees, or even his own relatives. His nephew Fred (Garth West) and employee Bob Cratchit (Kevin Pelkey) show loving Christian attitudes that are sharply juxtaposed with Scrooge's disdain for Christmas and all those who celebrate it. Scrooge gets visited by his late business partner Jacob Marley (Eric Dino) who warns him to change his attitude towards others, to avoid torment in the afterlife. Scrooge is then visited by three spirits, the Ghost of Christmas Past (Sana "Prince" Sarr), the Ghost of Christmas Present (Matthew Casey), and the Ghost of Christmas Future (Robert Alexander.) These three spirits respectively help Scrooge see the consequences of his past choices, attitudes generated towards him by his present choices, and the grim projection of his future if he continues down the same heartless path. As is so often the way of human nature, Scrooge begins to see how it is not as easy to dismiss the legitimate needs of specific real people like Bob Cratchit's son Tiny Tim (Suraya Noonan) as it is to dismiss the needs of those who to him are faceless, nameless, and seemingly of no direct connection or consequence to his life.

Some standout changes in this virtual adaptation include that all the spirits appear to Scrooge virtually, while Bob Cratchit is working for him remotely and Fred contacts him remotely. Many of the dialogue changes from the Charles Dickens original reference current events regarding the global pandemic and the increase of using computers to perform basic functions of society that once required real life human interaction. In the Christmas past scenes that Young Scrooge (Jim Keller) experienced with Fezziwig (Benjamin Brennan), Mrs. Fezziwig (Bonnie Gregson), Miss Fezziwig (Ella Magnuson), and Dick Wilkins (Shaan Mehta), there are dance numbers with a deliberate 1980s feel and some impressive special effects, the past memories occurring outside the parameters of virtual meetings, since those were not commonplace back then. Mrs. Cratchit (Lisa Dahlstrom) appears with daughter Belinda (Ainsley Dahlstrom) on one screen, while Bob and Tiny Tim are on another screen, and daughter Martha (Jenny Silence) appears on yet another screen, as she is forced to quarantine at college. While much of the uniqueness, particularly in dialogue, is of a comedy nature, there is also an enhanced horror element with ghost guides (Emily Seanor and Genevieve Seanor) haunting Scrooge from these virtual meetings, appearing as supernatural intrusions, a temporary genre shift that works well.

While the entire cast is sensational, Kevin Pelkey steals the show as Bob Cratchit during his performance in the Ghost of Christmas Future scene, authentically conveying the emotions of a man who has suffered a tremendous loss.

The virtual show that I viewed was of the Saturday December 19 performance. Some cast members are different in the Sunday December 20 performance. I highly recommend A QUARANTINE CHRISTMAS CAROL EXPERIENCE. Please go to the Fairfield Center Stage website at tickets to purchase virtual access to the previously streamed performances. They will be on sale through January 1, 2021, for viewing through January 10, 2021.

I look forward to future productions from Fairfield Center Stage!




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From This Author Sean Fallon