Woodland Opera House
The Woodland Opera House will present a world-premiere production written by local playwright Bob Cooner. Presented virtually, “A Christmas Carol, a Play for Live Radio” is a twist on a holiday classic.
Costumed in period attire, the five actors (Matthew Abergel, Patricia Glass, Rodger McDonald, Gil Sebastian and Lenore Sebastian) create the voices of all the familiar Dickens characters.
“Adapting Dickens’ tale, which includes dozens of characters, as a radio script for only five actors presented a challenge, but it was a challenge the actors were excited to meet,” said writer and director Bob Cooner. “I wanted to include as much of Charles Dickens’ rich, colorful language as possible — not only the familiar phrases and passages from the original novella, but also a lot of the language that so strongly appeals to the senses.”
“Dickens gives us so many vibrant characters, and this was a chance for each of us actors to play not one but several of those characters. I think we all felt like one of those Victorian one-man bands,” actor Matthew Abergel said.
In the tradition of a 1930s and ’40s radio show, live sound effects were created by Woodland Opera House props master and actor, Jason Hammond. Said Cooner, “Hammond has collected a variety of props to brilliantly create dozens of live sound effects that add so much color to the storytelling.”
Alongside the talented cast, Dean Mora accompanies the story action on the organ. “One of the hallmarks of live radio shows back in the 1930s and ’40s was the live musical accompaniment provided by the studio orchestras,” Cooner said. “We are incredibly fortunate to have Dean Mora providing an amazing live soundtrack for our production, playing a vintage organ provided by Musictown Studio,” he added.
“Rehearsing this show, I occasionally thought about my grandfather’s ancestors, the Cockney working-class Londoners whose difficult lives Dickens often depicts. If they could endure the hardships of those hard times, I guess I don’t have much to complain about, not even this year. This has been a tough year. We need reminders of hope, and here’s Dickens serving it up in a feast fit for a king,” Cooner said.
“Our goal is to keep the arts alive and offer creative options for our community while our theater doors must remain closed,” said Angela Baltezore, executive director. “We are currently holding all of our theater and dance education classes virtually and we plan to continue streaming concerts, plays and encore presentations of past shows.”
The show was recorded live on the Woodland Opera House stage and will be streamed through the ShowTix4U platform at 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 5 and 12, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 6. Tickets are just $10 for individuals and $20 for groups for viewing on one device (Smartphone, computer, or smart T.V.) Tickets can be purchased at www.woodlandoperahouse.org . Call 530-666-9617 for more information.