New Jersey’s Chatham Community Players’ (CCP) musical version of “A Christmas Carol” is celebrating its 30th anniversary and you should be right there with it, glass in hand! The book is by Philip Wm. McKinley and the music and lyrics are by McKinley and Suzanne Buhrer, with special additional music and arrangements by Ken Watkins and Helen Gregory. Whether on stage or in the audience, this is a family affair for all! Director Jeffrey Fiorello and Musical Director Jack Bender have crafted a snow globe full of love.
The cast features Alan Semok as Ebenezer Scrooge and Chip Prestera as Charles Dickens, who plays interlocutor and guide for Ebenezer’s pre-historic “This Is Your Life” episode. Semok gives us the crusty, fusty Scrooge and we gradually see the scales fall from his eyes, with Mr. Dickens’ help, and Prestera underscores the take-away lessons for the younger folks in the audience, while reminding the rest of us what all of the Holidays in this season are truly celebrating. CCP Prexy Joelle Bochner leads the choristers, in the pre-opening to the show, in beautifully contrapuntal a cappella caroling and plays Mrs. Dickens as well. Other favorites include Howard Fischer, as Fezziwig, and Leslie Gayle Williams, kicking up a dancing shoe in a Pawnbroker’s Song quartet that you will remember! Families appearing in the show include the Alexia and Zoe Davies, the Eberts, with Jody, Parker and Xander, Michelle and Owen Finnerty, and the Lincoln family’s Robert Hollis and Rory.
The Ghosts of Christmas are quite a winsome trio as well. Christina Eliades as Christmas Past sprinkles glitter as she goes, looking a bit–and very appropriately–like Mother Nature. Will Carey’s Christmas Present is quite the gift indeed. What he lacks in avoirdupois, he makes up for in height–and gives us every bit of Pagan-esque Christmas we could want. Luke Williams’ Christmas Future is particularly chilling and we can see why Scrooge makes a 180 and not a moment too soon. Williams also plays Young Ebenezer and, whether dancing with Adelaide Prekopa or getting jilted by her, they are the spirit of young love. Prekopa’s Belle has a song that will rend your heart, it is so beautifully done.
For those not expecting music, you will be delighted! Whether by Scott Baird’s Bob Cratchit, cutting up with his children; Michelle Finnerty’s Mrs. Cratchit, mourning her child; or Belle’s song, you will be moved. A bit of second act lightness is the Pawnbroker’s Song featuring Andrea Thibodeau, Leslie Gayle Williams, Will Carey, and Ken Magos in a song and dance that comes at just the right time, and is quite honestly one of my favorite parts of the piece! Samantha Hahn-Simpson’s choreography gives all the joy of the season. Alan Ellis’ Topper strikes the right notes and Eila Francis Fan and Samantha Paparo have brief, but integral and colorful roles.
This show is visually beautiful–Roy Pancirov’s set and Richard Hennessy’s lighting set off Frances Harrison’s period costumes and Dean Sickler’s touches make it great. If you want a respite from the hustle and bustle outside, step inside this theatre and feel your heart warm up.
For tickets and more information, visit Chatham Community Players’ website at www.ChathamPlayers.org
. “A Christmas Carol” is done on December 23, so get your tickets NOW!