Adorned with red ribbons, evergreen wreaths and a cascade of snowflakes and twinkling lights, the Pocahontas County Opera House was dressed to the nines in anticipation of Saturday afternoon’s matinee performance of the Hampstead Stage Company’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
Children of all ages – accompanied by parents and grandparents – gathered at the Opera House, where they were treated to a buffet of baked goods and hot chocolate – provided by the Marlinton Woman’s Club.
“Thank you so much for coming to the Pocahontas County Opera House today to see the production of A Christmas Carol,” Opera House director Brynn Kusic said in welcome. “We’re so lucky to have these folks from Hampstead Stage Company, all the from New Hampshire, here with us today.”
For the next hour and a half, members of the audience were treated to an interactive play put on by Hampstead Stage Company’s Hannah Redmond and Kyle Walter. Encouraged by Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, the audience greets a Scrooge – portrayed by Walter – with a rousing “Merry Christmas!” to which he responded to with his famous line, “Bah, humbug!”
Three children were then selected from the audience by Redmond’s Bob Cratchit to become Scrooge’s newest apprentices. Rather than risk Scrooge finding offense in the children’s names, Cratchit renamed volunteers Owen Barb, Danielle Yingling, and Kya Barb as Who, He and Where, respectively. Shortly afterward, the apprentices were quickly introduced as “This is He, he is Who, and there is Where,” much to Scoorge’s chagrin and confusion.
Before Who, He and Where were introduced to Scrooge, Cratchit discovered that the children were all wearing Scrooge’s least favorite colors – bright, happy colors, such as blue, pink and green. In an attempt to keep the colors hidden from Scrooge, Who wrapped his arms about him as if he was cold to hide his blue shirt; He got down on her knees – acting as if she were looking for Scrooge’s favorite thing – money – in order to keep Scrooge from seeing her pink shoes; and Where covered a pretty bow in her hair by acting as if she had a headache.
“I will let it go this time,” Scrooge grumbled, “but make sure you wear something drab next time – like black or gray!”
It was at the end of Scrooge’s work day that three other companions made themselves known, foretold by the ghost of Scrooge’s late business partner, Jacob Marley. An Irishman of small stature arrives first as the Ghost of Christmas Past, followed by the spirit of a woman clothed in green and adorned with a wreath of poinsettias as the Ghost of Christmas Present, and finally, a phantom shrouded in black as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – all portrayed by Redmond.
On his journey through time – where he revisits the tenderness of his youth, discovers the happiness in sickly Tiny Tim and receives a warning against the temptations of Ignorance and Want, and finally, what will come to pass should he continue on with his current ways – Scrooge discovers the true meaning of Christmas and stresses its importance to his young audience.
“I will honor Christmas in my heart!” he exclaimed, “and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”
As Dickens ended his novella, Cratchit led Owen – now portraying Tiny Tim – to center stage, where he recited Tiny Tim’s famous line. “Merry Christmas to all,” he said as the cast and his fellow “apprentices” joined him for the final bow, “and God bless us, everyone!”
Stationed in New Hampshire, the Hampstead Stage Company hosts year-round interactive tours. Each play’s script is an original adaptation, based on literary classics, and are written to promote audience interaction. The one-hour plays are performed by a pair of professional actors, and a brief question and answer session follows each performance.
Hannah Redmond, a Chicago native who graduated from West Virginia University with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Theatre: Acting, portrayed Bob Cratchit, the three spirits of Christmas and voiced the ghost of Jacob Marley in Saturday’s production.
Kyle Walter, a recent graduate of West Virginia University’s M.F.A Acting program, portrayed Fred and Ebenezer Scrooge and lent his voice to a pair of men asking for donations to aid the poor.
It is the hope that the Hampstead Stage company will return in Spring 2016 to perform their adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. More information will become available as the date draws nearer.
The Pocahontas County Opera House is located at 818 Third Avenue in Marlinton.
Performances at the Opera House are informal, family-friendly and open to all. The entrance and main seating are accessible to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are encouraged to attend; special accommodations can be arranged upon request by calling 304-799-6645.
Cailey Moore may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org