By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
More than 120 audience members were transported to an eerie London skyline by way of the Theatre Palisades Actors’ Troupe, which presented a virtual rendition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” via Zoom on Wednesday evening, December 16, for its seventh annual holidaytime show.
“177 years ago, Charles Dickens presented his story as a novella and it found an instant response in hearts of people everywhere who saw in it their favorite fictional chronicle of what Christmas is and what Christmas means to all the people of the earth,” Theatre Palisades President Philip Bartolf shared at the top of the show. “It was first presented on stage in London that very same year. From the day of its first printing, families have made a year tradition of reading, watching or listening to ‘A Christmas Carol.’”
Fourteen actors then took the virtual stage, taking part in the nearly one-hour-long show, which was directed by Sherman Wayne and produced by Martha Hunter.
Manfred Hofer played the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, with Robert Grochau as his accountant Bob Cratchit. Scrooge’s late partner Jacob Marley, who returns to earth to warn Scrooge of the three spirit visitors he is about to encounter, was played by Charmaine Glennon.
Holly Sidell was the Ghost of Christmas Past, Maria O’Connor the Ghost of Christmas Present and Mitchell Feinstein the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
Other roles were filled by Bartolf, Yvonne Robertson, Laura Goldstein, Barry and Mary Allwright, Nancy Hullihan, Wendy Taubin, and Valerie Ruel—with several actors throughout the show playing multiple characters, complete with seamless costume changes.
Actors were each in their own residences—spread across the United States from Pacific Palisades to Connecticut, Missouri and Florida. The show featured an assortment of costumes, makeup and an array of sound effects, which Hunter provided.
Hunter shared with the Palisadian-Post that the troupe meets every Sunday via Zoom, with the first read through of the show done in early November. After the annual awards show wrapped, rehearsals began to take place once a week.
“We rehearsed for five Sundays, as well as four times during the week before the show,” Hunter explained. “All of the actors worked on their own parts individually. They found or bought their own costumes. Some also found some pieces in the theatre’s costume room.”
Hunter had originally cast herself in the show, but shared that as the technical aspects became more and more challenging, she ran the tech for the show and reassigned her parts.
“It was quite intimidating for me, since I am hardly a tech person,” she shared. “The sound was a mix of recorded music from my computer and live sounds using pots, rocks, wood and bells.”
She shared that the show has been well received, and that audience members were “impressed and surprised” at how well it went, considering it was live.
“All of us here at Theatre Palisades join in wishing all of you a very merry Christmas indeed and a happy New Year,” Bartolf shared at the show’s conclusion on Wednesday evening. “And in the new year of 2021, we hope we will present our next Christmas show from the stage of our beloved Pierson Playhouse.”
Those who want to watch (or rewatch) the production may do so at youtube.com/watch?v=Q4maulGI44Y&feature=youtu.be.
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