Playhouse production aims for “warm fuzzies”
— Created December 6, 2023 by Kathy Reed
By Kathy Reed
Whidbey Playhouse in Oak Harbor has a classic gift for audiences this holiday season. Its production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” opens Friday and will run just two weekends. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets to the show are $15 and are available online at whidbeyplayhouse.com or by calling the box office at 360-679-2237.
Directed by Eric George, this adaptation was written in 2017 by longtime Playhouse volunteer Stan Thomas. Although streamlined slightly this year, this production delivers everything one might expect from this beloved story.
“It’s Dickens’ story,” said Thomas. “If you listen carefully, it’s all his dialogue. It’s not my dialogue, it’s his dialogue. I just tried to make it come alive.”
George, who was the assistant director of the show in 2017, said he had things he wanted to accomplish with the production this time around.
“I wanted to do something different from the last time I directed,” he said. “I have grown so much as a director since that production, and I set out to do things with our show that I felt had never been seen by our audience before, while staying true to what Charles Dickens’ wrote and keeping the stuff that people expect from ‘A Christmas Carol.’”
Audiences will not be disappointed. The set is done in a modified black box style, meaning it’s simple and there are just enough props to set the scenes. The costumes are well done and fit the era perfectly. It’s a large, all-ages cast; of the 39 actors, about half of them have never been on stage before. It’s clear actor Ben Honeycutt, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge, thoroughly enjoys the role and does an outstanding job, as does the rest of the cast.
“We have an amazing cast; I can’t put into words how great they are,” said George. “When we had auditions for this show we had almost 60 people come. I do want to take a minute and give this cast a round of applause. Every single one of them stepped up and has all given 100 percent to this show and we have thrown a lot at them.”
George is talking in part about the short time frame in which they’ve turned the production around.
“From the time we had auditions until opening night, we will have mounted a full production in seven weeks,” he said. “That includes all the stage work, costumes for 39 people (some playing more than one character), tech work, rehearsals, as well as having one production on the Playhouse stage, and two others in rehearsal. This has truly been the most challenging, but one of the most rewarding, shows I have ever done at the Playhouse.”
“It’s great fun. People love this story,” said Thomas. “It’s a story that way deep down we have a sense for, because we want to be like Scrooge. We want to be able to come out of all the problems, all the things we might have done in the past that we regret, and one day shine like he does. That moment of personal redemption.”
Whidbey Playhouse is located at 730 SE Midway Blvd. in Oak Harbor. Information and show details can be found online at whidbeyplayhouse.com.
“This is a great family show,” said George. “It’s got everything you could want in a show – dancing, music, great acting. It’s family friendly. I also hope it leaves the audience with a warm, fuzzy feeling in their hearts.”