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Tantallon’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ presages conditions today
By VIRGINIA TERHUNE
Charles Dickens created quite a stir in 1843 with his story, “A Christmas Carol,” about wealth and poverty in industrial England.
The author’s message still resonates nearly 170 years later, as the income gap continues to widen in the United States, says Lauren Bloom.
“It’s interesting to me how timely and relevant this is,” said Bloom, who is directing the adaptation she wrote for the Tantallon Community Players.
“It’s at a time when the world economy has tanked because modern Scrooges were engaged in the pursuit of wealth,” she said.
Featuring a cast of 33, including a children’s chorus, the play will run until Dec. 9 at the Harmony Hall Regional Center in Fort Washington.
Bloom said the production is not about an upper-class England festooned in lace.
“Scrooge was a moneylender, not a lord, and the people are wearing calico and petticoats,” she said about the realistic portrait Dickens painted of the harsh life in London in the 1800s for the majority of people.
Sets transport the audience to various scenes, including Scrooge’s office and house and the home of clerk Bob Cratchit whose son, Tiny Tim, is ill.
Tantallon, which often presents musicals, first produced the Bloom version of “A Christmas Carol” five years ago and is bringing it back to provide some opportunities for nonsinging actors in the company to perform, said Larry Carbaugh, the show’s producer and one of Tantallon’s founders.
“We usually do a World War II USO [musical] revue, but we decided to give some other people a chance,” Carbaugh said.
Carbaugh, who lives in Fort Washington, plays Mason, one of two philanthropists in Bloom’s script who appeal to Ebenezer Scrooge for a donation.
The second philanthropist, Fortnum (played by Kurt Anderson), alludes to Fortnum & Mason, known as “the queen’s department store,” said Bloom.
Bloom said she also has incorporated all or parts of more than 30 English Christmas carols into the show, some of which trace back to the Middle Ages.
In addition to traditional classics, such as “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” there is “The Boar’s Head Carol,” which has been sung at Christ Church in Cambridge every year since 1607, Bloom said.
“Each of the spirits [also] has his own carol,” Bloom said of the ghost of Scrooge’s dead business partner, Jacob Marley (Lance Adell), and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future (also played by Adell).
As the ghost from the present points out to Scrooge, the miser underpays Cratchit, who doesn’t make enough money to take care of Tiny Tim.
But Scrooge rethinks his treatment of people after the ghost from the future shows what hellish misery awaits him if he doesn’t.
“It has a happier ending than some of the other adaptations,” Bloom said.