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TMTO presents 'A Christmas Carol: The Musical'

Charles Dickens' timeless 1843 novella, "A Christmas Carol," is an inspiration for many an adaptation for stage, film and other media. 

Reginald Owen captured the crotchety Scrooge in 1938, Alastair Sim in 1951, George C. Scott in 1984 and Kelsey Grammer in 2004, to name a few. There's "Mickey's Christmas Carol," a 1983 animated short film with Mickey Mouse as Bob Cratchit and Scrooge McDuck at Ebenezer Scrooge, and "The Muppet Christmas Carol," with Michael Caine, in 1992. 

The book has never been out of print, and it's many adaptations retell the story of a Victorian-era miser who is taken on a journey of self-redemption, courtesy of the ghost of his deceased business partner, Jacob Marley, and several other Christmas apparitions.

"Everyone knows the iconic story. It's a tradition. All ages are familiar with it," says Doug Ham, director of Teen Musical Theater of Oregon's production of "A Christmas Carol: The Musical" opening Friday, Dec. 12, at the Craterian Theater, 23 S. Central Ave., Medford.

"This one adds the extra elements of music, singing and dancing," he says. "The story line is there, and the music blends very well with it. It furthers the plot and gives it more texture."  

Forty-nine Rogue Valley students of Craterian Performances' teen theater program will perform this version of the holiday story with music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Mike Ockrent and Ahrens.

It premiered in December 1994 at the Paramount Theatre in New York City's Madison Square Garden and ran annually there until December 2003. 

TMTO's shows are set for 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Dec. 12-13, 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 18-19, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 20. Tickets cost $20; $10 for ages 18 and younger, and can be purchased at the Craterian box office, 16 S. Bartlett St., online at craterian.org or by calling 541-779-3000.

Evan Sheets, 15, plays Bob Cratchit; Braden Day, also 15, plays young Scrooge; Matthew McConnell, 17, plays Jacob Marley; Reid Arthur, 18, plays Ghost of Christmas Present; Emma Cruse, 18, plays Ghost of Christmas Past; and Annie Craven, 14, plays Ghost of Christmas Future. 

Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Brian Day, captain of the Central Point Police Department. Day also played Daddy Warbucks in TMTO's production of "Annie." 

Another 43 students round out the cast and ensemble.

Choreographer Cailey McCandless — based in Florida — created the dance numbers for TMTO's production by videotaping herself dancing and posting the videos on a website for the show's dance captain, Maria Martin. Set design is by Gabriel Ash, costumes by Sue Quackenbush, and lighting by Brad Nelson.

A prerecorded music track came with the show's licensing and the scripts.

"It was recorded by a full orchestra and has a great sound to it," Ham says. "I think the cast is enjoying it. They have lots to do. Anytime you tackle a new show, there's a certain amount of research to be done to provide background. Dickens' story was set in a whole different time. That era in London was cold, gritty, lit with gaslight."

Dickens' "Carol" is credited with restoring the old Christmas traditions in England after a period of sobriety and somberness. Along with it's images of darkness and despair, it brings light, joy and warmth.

"Not everyone will read the book, but many will watch a movie or play version," Ham says. "This adaptation incorporates wonderful lyrics, great book and singing and dancing. And it's a nice revelation for all."

 

William Goldman plays Tiny Tim, and Evan Sheets plays Bob Cratchit in Teen Musical Theater of Oregon's production of 'A Christmas Carol: The Musical.' Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell