A Country Christmas Carol
The Johnson County Community Theatre delivered an outstanding performance of their latest production, A Country Christmas Carol, this past Saturday evening at Heritage Hall. Based on A Christmas Carol written by Charles Dickens in 1843, this delightful musical creation written by Ron Kaehler and Albert Evans takes place in Marley County, somewhere in America.
Ray Branch plays the part of the crotchety Eb Scrooge, a miserable and unhappy man who finds no joy in any aspect of his life. He doesn't like Christmas carolers, noise and helping anyone in need. I don't care for Christmas. I don't care for singing and I don't care for you, a disgruntled Scrooge said to his nephew, Dwight, played by Logan Dunn. Nothing seemed to make old Eb happy. His favorite expression seemed to be Bah humbug!
The musical revolves around the widow, Bobbie Jo Cratchit, played by Emma Dubin, and her two children, Jane Cratchit, played by Aisia Robbins and Tim Cratchit, played by Abigail Arnett, as well as the endearing people of Marley. The highlight of the Christmas season is the talent show that will be broadcast live on radio. Bobbie Jo was desperately hoping to win the talent show as she needed the extra money. She had been employed as Scrooge's secretary, but recently quit as she could not tolerate her boss anymore after old Eb, true to form, decided to cut off the heat, electricity and water of someone in dire straights on Christmas Eve. That was the last straw for Bobbie Jo. Times were hard, and it was not a time to be unemployed.
As in A Christmas Carol, Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future and sees himself through the eyes of others. They travel back in time to when young Eb was sent away from his home to live with an aunt he believed didn't like him and he did not like her. The audience watched as his relationship with his girlfriend fell apart and the impact the death of his sister had on his life. Scrooge became distraught as he realized the direction his life had taken him. He was horrified viewing his future as he watched Lavinia, played by Judy Walsh, burst into song when he died. Goodbye, old dog, it's a day of jubilee, she sang as she strutted across the stage, red boa in hand. Saddened as he could see himself through the eyes of others, Scrooge begged the Ghost of Christmas Future to let him alter the course of his life. Please, let me change the story, he pleaded. They need me and I need them. Branch's expressions as Scrooge watched his life unfold were at times poignant, haunting and heartbreaking.
This musical evoked many emotions throughout the evening. The audience was laughing one minute at the antics of Lavinia with her burgundy-colored hair set high upon her head, but that laughter soon turned to a heavy silence as tears welled up in Bobbie Jo's eyes as she talked to deceased family members.
Michael Eggers, who always manages to captures the moment with his expressive features, played the Ghost of Christmas Present. Adorned in a Santa suit, cape and boots, Eggers stood next to Scrooge as they both observed Bobbie Jo and her children in their home.
Kathy Henderson, the Ghost of Christmas Past, was gentle, tender and endearing as she stood by Scrooge as they moved back in time.
The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come, Scrooge's future, was played by a mystery guest cloaked in a long, black cape. While the other two spirits talked to Scrooge, this ghost remained silent. At the beginning of the musical, the audience was given three clues as to the spirit's identity. One bright member of the audience was able to put the clues together quickly, and the mystery guest was revealed at the end of the production. Kathy Terrill, director of A Country Christmas Carol, asked The Tomahawk to reveal the clues for next week's performances so the audience could be prepared to discover the identity of the next two mystery guests. For the Friday evening performance, the clues are: up on the hill, under a shady tree and watches the kids go by. For the Saturday evening performance, the clues are: law enforcement runs in the family, call 911 for an emergency and won the people's choice award.
The Johnson County Community Theatre delivered an exceptional performance of this timely musical. There were more than 30 actors and crew who made this production of A Country Christmas Carol possible. Each and every member, be they actor or stage crew, played a vital part in the success of this well done musical. Thanks to this outstanding group, Johnson Countians had the opportunity to enjoy yet another evening of local talent and entertainment.