When Charles Dickens first published “A Christmas Carol” in 1843, he likely never imagined an author as wild and as whimsical as Dr. Seuss. Nevertheless, “A Christmas Carol” is a timeless story that is as flexible as it is poignant, and it can fit into anytime anywhere greed threatens to take hold in men’s hearts.
To that end, “A Seussified Christmas Carol” by Peter Bloedel is a unique adaptation designed to delight children of all ages with Dickens’ classic ghost story, although Narrator 1 and Narrator 2 insist this play has absolutely nothing at all to do with Dr. Seuss.
The comedy presented by The Newtowne Players opens tonight, Friday, Nov. 29, at Three Notch Theatre in Lexington Park.
No matter what the narrators — played by Kellie Podsednik and Carey Bibb — say, this play has a healthy dollop of Seuss ladled on top of it.
While there is a minimalistic set, it helps bring attention to the various “Seussified” props such as Scrooge’s rickety blue bed with a bright green fuzzy comforter, and the Christmas trees in the shape of candy canes heavily laden with gaudy ornaments. Of course, it wouldn’t be Seussified if the cast were not clad in the most outlandish of outfits, which include bow ties plucked right out of “The Cat in the Hat,” cloaks with rainbow fur, top hats bigger than the children wearing them, and the ghost of Jake Marley dragging a whole birdcage (complete with bird).
Scrooge happens to be adorned with splashes of bright green on the pockets of his suit jacket, and tufts of green fur on his dressing gown and night cap — likely it has nothing to do with Dr. Seuss’s famous Christmas-hating villain, the Grinch.
While the Narrators continue to proclaim their separation from Seuss, the play just so happens to be in rhyme. Audience members may be tempted to doubt, to think “Surely there is no way that this play, with two acts, could possibly be entirely in rhyme?” Well, they would be wrong.
The rhymes never stop, from the bottom to the top. It’s as if Dickens himself would not mind, although would be surprised at lines like “Ghost-intolerant” and “skateboarding ghost posse.”
Even those not fans of rhymes or colorful outfits can still enjoy the knockout performance of Neil Compton, aka, The Scrooge. His voice and the way he carries himself on the stage is enough to convince that he is a withered old miser, bitter about his lost hair and his bygone days of rock and roll.
But even before the audience meets the famous old humbug, the performance begins with the two narrators. Their energy is infectious, and they have an almost hypnotic cadence that pulls viewers in before the story even starts. This show is a perfect dose of holiday fun, perfect for families or anyone who loves a good time.
With zoot fruited juices and binka bird geese, from Bed-Headed Fred to Timmy Loo Hoo, this tale of glorious holiday cheer is like something Dr. Seuss might have come up with — if he ever had his way with the story.
The show, which is directed by Sarah Gravelle and Stacy Oosterink, runs from Nov. 29 through Dec. 15. Performances are at 8 p.m. on Fridays, 3:30 and 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 3:30 p.m. on Sundays.
Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors/students/military, and $10 for children. Tickets and more information are available at www.newtowneplayers.org or by calling 301-737-5447.
Written by Erin Fischer of The Newtowne Players