Play seeks Dickens' muses at Quannapowitt Playhouse in Reading
Charles Dickens may have drawn inspiration from the people and places of his Victorian-era England, but who were the real “ghosts” in his life who inspired “A Christmas Carol”?
No one knows for certain, but Reading-based Quannapowitt Players’ production of Dickens’ seasonal classic is in a sense, a tale of two cities – the London of Dickens’ imagination, and the one he inhabited with his friends and family, whom the play imagines helped him form the idea for his story.
Playwright Michael Paller’s version of “A Christmas Carol” will be onstage at Quannapowitt Playhouse in Reading, and marks the first time any version of this holiday standard has been performed there.
“So many professional companies do it so well, with big special effects,” said Nancy Curran Willis of Burlington, publicist for Quannapowitt Players, who directs many community theater productions in the area. “If a bunch of people got in a room and created a story, what would it look like?”
Willis said Paller’s play allowed Quannapowitt Players to interpret a version of “A Christmas Carol” with more emphasis on realism rather than the supernatural.
Dickens and his family and friends – and the characters of the novel – mirror each other, as Dickens struggles toward the perfection of what is arguably his best-known and best-loved work.
Dickens envisions himself poignantly as the young Ebenezer Scrooge, who, despite his unhappy childhood, is full of hope and ambition for the future.
In the end, the play strives to provide insight not only into the writing of “A Christmas Carol,” but into Dickens’ own life as well as his vibrant and memorable characters.
“You look at this alter ego going on – Dickens, as a young boy – and there are classic scenes from the story that come out of this,” Willis said.
Wakefield resident Chip Sheeran directs the production, which stars Shane Doherty of Medford as Dickens and Scrooge. Wakefield residents Hugh Metzler and Bernie Hutchens also appear; Metzler plays Scrooge’s partner, Jacob Marley; Hutchens alternately plays Mark Lemon, editor of “Punch,” a popular magazine of the era, and Fezziwig, young Scrooge’s kindly boss and mentor.
If you go
“A Christmas Carol” by Michael Paller
Where Quannapowitt Playhouse, 55 Hopkins St., Reading
When Friday and Saturday, Nov. 20 and 21, 27 and 28, and Dec. 4 and 5 and 11 and 12, at 8 p.m. Sunday matinees Nov. 22 and 29 and Dec. 6 at 3 p m.
Tickets $18 adults, $17 seniors and students over 12, $10 for children.
For more information call 781-942-2212 or visit www.qptheater.com.
Margaret Smith is Arts and Calendar editor at Gate House Media New England’s Northwest Unit. E-mail her at email@example.com.