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Week Three: Ready For Opening Night!

Adam Long

This week we loaded Dickens Abridged into the Arts Theatre and began previews. Mark Bailey's set looks magnificent (members of the team are already arguing over who gets to keep the eight-foot-tall book with the built-in guillotine), Humphrey McDermott's lighting design is gorgeous (Uriah Heep spitting venom while thrashing his guitar bathed in an ethereal yellow light is one of the most rock-and-roll things I've ever seen), the cast are in fantastic form, the folks at the Arts Theatre are great to work with, and the preview audiences have been lovely and enthusiastic. Hydar Dewachi, our resident photographer and guru, continues to provide us with spiritual sustenance as well as gorgeous photographic documentation.

There have been numerous highlights: Jon Robyns in rapture as Scrooge transformed, spontaneously bursting into dance steps never performed by humans before; Kit Orton as David Copperfield channelling the spirit of Harpo Marx, a sight that will break the heart of even the most hardened of theatre-goers; Matthew Hendrickson, both comic and poignant as Mr Micawber, looking a bit like The Penguin from Batman; Gerard Carey as a bearded Mrs Catherine Dickens, regularly whipping the audience into wild applause with his/her foul-mouthed rants and electric guitar solos; and, of course, Damian Humbley as a sublime and masterfully acted Charles Dickens, poignant, hilarious, utterly magnificent!

There are still challenges to overcome. A snow-drop has to be rigged to bury Bob Cratchit beneath a mountain of white flakes. A decision has to be made about which dog-on-wheels works best for Bill Sikes. Harmonies are polished and refined on a daily basis. There's a lot of practicing of guitar, fiddle, and piano (a melodious and pleasant backdrop). Official opening is here, and spirits are high.

Dickens Abridged is running at the Arts Theatre.

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