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28Jan

A Christmas Carol - Mount Vernon High School - Alexandria, Virginia - December 3, 2016

Annie Silva

Chantilly High School

The classic tale of Christmas' past, present, and future was retold in Mount Vernon High School's A Christmas Carol.

 

A Christmas Carol, written by Charles Dickens, was first published as a novella in 1843. Since its publication, it has been turned into several play and movie adaptations. This version was Ed Monk's adaption, written in 2000, and provided a lean yet faithful script to the novella. It followed the story of a grumpy old man named Ebenezer Scrooge. One Christmas Day, Scrooge is transported back to reflect on different points in his life by the Ghosts of Christmas' Past, Present and Future. Through this reflection, Scrooge realizes that he has no need to be so ill-tempered and becomes a kinder, more generous man as the story concludes.

 

The storyteller of the show was the Narrator (Jared Diallo). Diallo maintained consistent volume and helped move the story along quickly. Leading the story was Ebenezer Scrooge (Samuel Zarek). Zarek performed wonderfully, especially with the task of such a large role. He sustained the transformation of Scrooge throughout the show with his mannerisms and vocalizations.

 

Two standout performances from the rest of the supporting cast were Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig (Ttendo Williams and Sydney Osei Tutu). Together, the two had great chemistry and provided comical relief in the dark play. They each had their own developed characters that were maintained in the entirety of their scenes.

 

The set was minimal but effective. It contained several intentionally weathered wooden desks and chairs, and a curtained bed that created the atmosphere necessary for each scene efficaciously. At times the actors were difficult to hear, but the energy from the cast made up for any sound concerns. Throughout the show's transitions, student-made compositions adapted from classic Christmas carols were played.  They set the Christmas mood and covered any awkward scene transitions. The lighting aspect of the show was well done, and the blocking of the piece was very interesting--many of the actors performing throughout the theatre space. To mimic Scrooge walking through Town, Scrooge walked through the aisles of the theatre lit by two large spotlights. These blocking choices created a fascinating effect for the audience.

 

The cast of A Christmas Carol put the audience in just the right mood for this upcoming holiday season; joyous, reflective, and most of all, grateful.


Isabella Diaz

Bishop Ireton High School

As the Christmas season gets underway, we are consumed in a whirlwind of consumerism and obsession with gift-giving, and often forget the purpose of the holiday. Mount Vernon High School's production of "A Christmas Carol" strove to use its simple message and classic story to remind audiences of the true meaning of Christmas.

 

"A Christmas Carol" tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly businessman who cares only for himself, not for his employees, his neighbors, and certainly not for the Christmas season. When visited on Christmas Eve by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who suffers in torment for his selfishness while living, Scrooge is sent on journeys with three spirits, the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, which will hopefully change Scrooge for the better and remind him of the true meaning of Christmas.

 

All actors in the show performed without the use of microphones; however, to most this wasn't a detriment. Sound crew members Paul Hiniker and Christopher Tait composed original music for the production. These compositions played during scene changes and were pleasant, if slightly too contemporary, for the period. Lighting served little purpose other than to simply illuminate the stage, however, spotlights were used somewhat creatively as actors walked in the aisles and on the stage during scene changes.

 

Use of makeup was a bright spot for certain characters. Scrooge's old age makeup was convincing and well done. The ghosts of Christmas Past and Present had similar makeup, but the concepts distinguished the ghosts from the other characters well. Props in the show were useful, if sometimes ill-placed; the candle which is characteristic of the traditional story was rarely in the show, and certain items were referred to in the script that simply weren't there. The goose which served as the Cratchit family dinner seemed too large for a poor family, and near the end, Scrooge's headstone remained on stage when the scene was set in the Cratchit living room.

 

The set was very simple, using furniture to create the different settings of the play. While the set pieces themselves were versatile and did their job, scene changes felt slow, oftentimes long.

 

A bright spot for many in the audience was the performances of both Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig, played by Ttendo Williams and Sydney Osei Tutu. While only on stage for a few scenes, both characters had wonderful chemistry and made the audience laugh. Even in the background, they were often more appealing to focus on than some of the main characters in the scene. Other notable performances were those of Young Scrooge, played by Donovan Fisher, and Belle, played by Maggie McClelland.

 

The unnamed narrator, played by Jared Diallo, did well projecting his lines clearly and driving the story forward, albeit looking a little out of place in a modern Christmas sweater vest and sneakers. The lead of Ebenezer Scrooge, portrayed by Samuel Zarek, had by far the most difficult role, onstage for almost the entire production, and he did well remembering all lines and driving each scene forward.

 

Overall, Mount Vernon High School's production of "A Christmas Carol" had areas in need of improvement but never stopped striving to remind audiences that Christmas is not about selfishness, but about kindness and giving.

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