Tuesday, December 10, 2013

TOP STORY >> ‘A Christmas Carol’ family style

Leader staff writer

The Cabot Community Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” promises to be a family-friendly event. Several of the cast members are related, so why wouldn’t it be?

Performances are set for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m., and the show begins at 7:30. The Sunday performance is a matinee that starts at 2 p.m. and does not include a meal. But concessions will be available.

Reservations are required and can be made online at www.cabotcommunitytheatre.com or by calling 501-941-2266. The theater is at 204 N. First St.

Dana Carney is making his debut on Cabot’s stage as Scrooge. Joining him are his daughter, Heather Bickerstaff, and granddaughter, Madison Jones.

Bickerstaff is playing Scrooge’s niece-in-law and Carney’s granddaughter is the kid who Scrooge sends to buy a turkey for the Cratchit family.

The size of the Cabot theater’s turkey prop can’t be exaggerated because it’s nearly as large as Jones.

Carney says the scene with her is his favorite part of the production. In fact, it seemed like he hardly needed to act at all during a rehearsal last week.

Scrooge’s praises of the child he sends to the butcher shop seem to roll off his tongue.

As for the Cratchit family, actors Brian and Julie Shumway (Mr. and Mrs. Bob Cratchit) are married and two of the actors playing the Cratchit children, Alex (Tiny Tim) and Rebekah Shumway, are the couple’s real-life son and daughter.

The Shumways even joked that they’ve adopted the three other kids performing as members of the Cratchit clan.

And their youngest daughter, Emma, is performing as Want. Want is the little girl who appears under the ghost of Christmas present’s robe to symbolize the children of London’s poor families in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Brian Shumway continued, “It’s very odd acting with my own family.” His character, Bob Cratchit, is a different dad and husband than he is, the actor explained.

Brian Shumway said the most difficult scene for him to play is the scene in which Scrooge is shown a future without Tiny Tim.

Bob Cratchit, within just a few minutes, breaks down emotionally from grief and then gives a speech saying that he is the rock of the family, Brian Shumway noted.

“I’m finding it very entertaining on a personal level to try to portray something I’ve seen in a movie, two movies actually,” he continued.

Shumway explained that it is a challenge to keep his character unique but true to the original production.

As for Alex, who plays Tiny Tim, Brian Shumway said, “He’s got one of the most iconic roles in theater or movie history.”

Alex Shumway said he likes his character because, “He’s well known. You can’t do the show without him.”

He added that he enjoys pretending to have a limp. Alex Shumway even learned how to do an English accent and seemed to enjoy showing that off after a rehearsal last week.

This will be his first time acting, although the youngster has sung a solo at church before, his father said.

Doug Morris — the director, ghost of Christmas present and ghost of Christmas yet to come — said, “Most people know the story, but there have been so many stage versions.

Even working from the same script, no two productions are the same. Seeing our version will be unique.”

Carney (Scrooge) said he likes the production because “I think it’s the story of redemption. I think it’s something people can identify with. It’ s a feel-good story.”

About the ghost of Christmas present, Morris said, “He starts out looking like a jolly soul, but he doesn’t cut Scrooge any slack at all. He’s quick to throw Scrooge’s words back at him.”

About the ghost of Christ-mas yet to come, he noted, “You could say he’s like the last runner on a relay team. He’s going to win Scrooge over by any means necessary.”

Sherry Davis-Meece, the ghost of Christmas past, said, “(People) should come to see the play because it’s very enlightening.

“It’s great family entertainment. Everybody in the cast makes an effort to be a real family,” she said.

The actors help each other, Davis-Meece added.