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Staples Players Radio Theatre Presents A CHRISTMAS CAROL

A Christmas Carol" airs this Sunday EST at 6 pm, for FREE, via livestream.

Staples Players Radio Theatre Presents A CHRISTMAS CAROL

We can all use a little holiday cheer this year and A Christmas Carol is the perfect way to wrap up a wonderful season of radio plays from our town's renowned and resilient theater troupe, Staples Players. Each has been a gift to listeners and this Christmas classic ties up everything our pandemic weary spirits need with a bow: engaging entertainment by brilliant actors, timely lessons, and lively Christmas carols that are sure to buoy the hearts of even the Ebenezers among us. "A Christmas Carol" airs this Sunday EST at 6 pm, for FREE, via livestream at www.wwptfm.org.

David Roth (SHS '84) and Kerry Long (SHS '97) co-direct, with music direction by Don Rickenback. "David has done this show before as an exercise in his Theatre III class, but this production utilizes a slightly different script," comments Long. "A big change is that we have-for the first time-a woman playing Scrooge. Samantha Webster (SHS '21) is doing a phenomenal job of channeling her innermost crotchety old man. In 2020, we figured that gender should definitely not limit our casting pool!"

Fans who heard Webster's brilliant execution of busybody Mrs. Bennet in Pride and Prejudice will be poised on the edge of their couches this Sunday. About developing her character, Webster says, "I started out by first finding his voice in terms of pitch and placement, playing around with how to sound older and more masculine. Then I worked on incorporating the RP British accent. It has evolved quite a bit throughout the rehearsal process. Working on using inflection and tone to track the emotional and psychological journey of Scrooge has been a great challenge and learning experience."

Jamie Mann (SHS '21), who plays Scrooge's nephew Fred, comments, "Radio Plays are so exposing when it comes to specificity in the vocal intonation and especially accent that you are using. I've spent a lot of time trying to perfect my British RP dialect. Creating a character centered around vocal inflection has been an invigorating acting challenge." Much of the rehearsal process happens on Zoom. Rather than caving to Zoom fatigue, Mann found the silver lining. "I loved having the chance to observe the rehearsal process of scenes I am not a part of," he says. "It's really exciting to watch your peers collaborating and growing, from more of an audience perspective."

Jasper Burke (SHS '21), who plays Bob Cratchit, says, "My favourite [his British spelling is fitting] part of the process is logging onto rehearsal and getting to work with all my friends. It's also amazing being able to listen and be a part of the process as the show develops and grows, while we incorporate more sounds effects and piece it together." Burke, whose mother is British, infuses an excellent Cockney into the mix.

"I've had so much fun working on the accents for the show," says Maddy Edwards (SHS '21), who plays Mrs. Cratchit. "Jasper is something of an expert on UK dialects." Edwards has appreciated the time with the cast in these isolating times: "I love that we've been able to maintain some semblance of normalcy. We rehearse in smaller groups in breakout rooms if we are not in an act, which is similar to a normal rehearsal process and has allowed the cast to grow closer. The Cratchit family has gotten really close, which has been great."

After recording the first two radio shows this fall in the recording studio (with stringent protocol), Players had to nimbly shift to online recording last month. "The switch to doing the productions entirely over Zoom has been a complicated one, and the students and staff have risen to the occasion in a major way," says Roth. "As soon as we learned that there was even chance of not being able to be in person in the Black Box to record It's a Wonderful Life, our students and staff spent the weekend overhauling the script and color coding the sound effects-creating options for both at-home sound effects and in-studio effects. During that show, students were often performing from their bedrooms and creating sound effects at the same time! The same will be the case for A Christmas Carol. Because of the limitations of the audio output for Zoom (Zoom chooses a main sound to focus on and automatically filters out 'unneeded' background noise-even if you tell it not to!), we have had to be very creative in figuring out ways around the audio limitations."

Samantha Webster comments, "I've had so much fun working with the sound effects. Never did I think I would get to drag metal chains around my floor, but here we are!"

Roth emphasizes, "Our tech crew students-Brandon Malin, Samira Saad, Lucia Scotti, and more-have been instrumental in making these shows happen."

Brandon Malin (SHS '21) has had to shelve his lighting design expertise for now and take on the role of Co-Sound Designer and Sound Board Operator for the radio play series. "I have had to learn a whole new array of skills, including sound designing, music mixing, and operating new software," he says. "Now that we are all on Zoom, everyone has to balance their own microphones at home, and we also run into internet problems and even issues with the room that actors are performing in-it takes a while to get everyone ready before the show! Working with the time delay of the cast being on a video call has been difficult as well, but we have worked through it. Though we are not in person creating something to share with a live audience in the auditorium, the Players community is still strong and the magic of creating live theatre goes on." Malin also noted the silver lining of being able to reach fans across the globe: "Though there is not the immediate reaction and knowledge of a job well done from the roaring crowd in the auditorium or black box, this New Medium of delivering theatre to the community reaches far and wide and enables us to share our work with more people than ever before."

Long adds, "Audiences will enjoy the many Christmas songs sung during the show. Usually these would be recorded live, as a group, in studio. This time, each student recorded their part at home and Brandon Malin (with the help of mentor Geno Heiter) layered the voices together to form cohesive tracks. We are so lucky to have such smart and inventive students!"

What will audiences take away from this show?

"I think that listeners will take away the value of what we do for others and the significance of giving. Right now, supporting and uplifting the community is more important than ever, and I feel that the show echoes that messaging." -Samantha Webster

"I love this show because it demonstrates the magic of Christmas in a more mature way. Human beings are always so concerned with financial stability that they forget that Christmas isn't about gift giving; Christmas as Fred puts it so eloquently is, 'a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time.' A Christmas Carol manifests the spark of hope that makes Christmas the most wonderful time of the year." -Jamie Mann

"The radio play of this Christmas classic is an amazing production, which is fun, exciting, and really pulls in the listener, providing a great night of entertainment for all!"

-Jasper Burke

"There are some very important and timely messages about the spirit of giving and making the best of what you have. I think listeners will really enjoy it, and the show will help get them into the holiday spirit!" -Maddy Edwards

Staples Players Presents:

A Christmas Carol
By Charles Dickens

Production Team

Directors................................................... ... David Roth, Kerry Long
Music Director.......................................... .......Don Rickenback
Audio Director................................................ Geno Heiter
Technical Director........................................................... .Jeff Hauser
Assistant Technical Director.................................Alicia D'Anna
Graphic Designer..............................................Kerry Long

Performance Schedule

A Christmas Carol: December 13 at 6 pm EST

Tune in for FREE via livestream at www.wwptfm.org



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