Theater: ‘A Christmas Carol’ Is a Holiday Treat
The Woodcrest Christian School Drama Department has set the holiday season in motion with their incredible performances of A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens’ story of the cold-hearted curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Woodcrest Christian junior Garrett Haun), is hauntingly brought to life with exciting technical highlights and an incredible cast.
As one of the largest Fall season productions in WCS history, the cast and crew totals 47 students ranging from grades 3-12. While many are returning to the stage, there are 17 students performing in a school drama for the first time. “This is an unusually high number of first-timers,” says WCS director, Teresa Bickett. “They have done an amazing job and are flourishing in their roles,” she says.
“I will honour Christmas in my heart, 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!”
New to the stage this year is junior Silas Sheffer, playing the role of Scrooge’s nephew. Silas’ heartwarming portrayal of the ever-optimistic Fred has been a special part of the show. In addition, stage newcomer and senior Matthew Stoffel enlivens the show with an incredibly fun and jolly portrayal of the endearing Mr. Fezziwig. And finally, capturing the hearts of each audience, bright-eyed third grader Aidan Kelley is remarkable as Tiny Tim.
“There are also nine seniors in the show this year,” Teresa says. The longest serving senior in the school drama department is Sydni Miller. “Sydni really blossomed as an actor when she played the role of Helen Keller’s mom a few years back,” she says. “This year, she is doing another amazing job as the caring mother of Tiny Tim. We will miss her when she graduates!”
While a great cast brings the show to life, the set has also drawn audiences into each scene. This year the intimate setting carefully created by transforming the school’s multi-purpose room into a blackbox theater was enhanced with additional lighting, an extended backstage platform, and a new lighting/soundboard console. Creative special effects have also wowed audiences including Marley’s ghostly entrance, his brief appearance on a door, bells ringing by themselves, and a chilling reveal on a tombstone.
“You may be an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mustard, a crumb of cheese, a fragment of underdone potato. There’s more of gravy than of grave about you, whatever you are!”
As with any major production, each show has its own set of challenges, and our students know how to take them in stride. “The backstage area is quite unbelievably small when you consider the size of stage pieces we have to squeeze in. Add to it 47 people, and it’s a wonder there’s room for anyone to stand back there,” Teresa says. The show’s multiple scene changes, large cast and large set items add to the show’s impact. With over 88.75 hours of rehearsal time in a span of 2.5 months, the cast truly knows what’s required to pull off seamless stage transitions and meticulous backstage movements.
“Another challenge that just goes to show how incredible our students are is the fact that Garrett (Scrooge) is in every single scene. He never gets a break. He’s had an incredible amount of lines to memorize,” states Teresa. “Plus, he’s got to completely change character midway when Scrooge’s transformation takes place. His ability to be a new and different Scrooge is incredible.”
A Christmas Carol marks the 13th play that Teresa Bickett has directed at WCS since 2013. “I love the story of redemption in Scrooge and the hope that it offers,” she says. “But what I love most is watching the actors from the youngest to the oldest hone their skills and become confident in their delivery of the role. It’s also special when we have downtime between performances and I see them interacting and enjoying each other. I love that we are a family.”