Tongue-twisting holiday humor

Alaska Fine Arts Academy stages Seussified rendition of ‘A Christmas Carol’


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The Ghost of Christmas Present, played by Ella Bryner, relates the story of the Cratchet Family’s demise to Scrooge, played by Betty Burke in the Alaska Fine Arts Academy’s production of “A Seussified Christmas Carol.”

CINTHIA RITCHIE

Theater-goers don’t normally laugh through Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

That’s not the case at the Alaska Fine Arts Academy’s rendition of Peter Bloedel’s “A Seussified Christmas Carol.”

The play offers a mad dose of nonsense words intertwined with familiar holiday characters such as Scrooge and Ghost of Christmas Past plus the addition of Bed Head Fred and Thing #1 and Thing #2.

And, oh yeah, the Ghost of Christmas Present dressed as a holiday present (get it?).

According to co-directors Renee Crumley and Deborah Dompier, the production weaves two genres: A playful child’s story merged with a serious moral lesson.

It’s also presented totally in rhyme.

“It’s one of the most creative plays I’ve ever been in,” Dompier said. “It’s more difficult to learn than Shakespeare.”

The entire cast wears bright, colorful wigs: Blaring blues, vivid oranges and fluorescent pinks. The wigs are styled into crazy ‘dos.

Hair and makeup takes a long time, Crumley said.

“A long, long time.”

And psst: Scrooge is played by a woman.

But don’t worry. She’s been transformed through makeup and baggy clothes.

“You’d never know it wasn’t a man,” Crumley said.

The Ghost of Christmas Future is the only adult male in the production. In fact, there are only five adult actors — the rest are children.

“And the youth are the ones that come up with the best ideas,” Crumley said.

The play always uses a lot of props. The script and dialogue demands it, Dompier said.

“Wait!” she cried. “You have to see the tinsely reindeer sweater.”

A moment later she held up a sweater with an obscene amount of tinsel attached over the front.

That’s pretty much the mood of the performance: Wacky and impulsive one moment, heart and meaning the next.

The production auditioned at the end of September. Rehearsal began two months ago.

“The lines are tongue-twisters, I can barely say them myself,” Dompier laughed. “The kids learned them lickety-split but the adults took longer.”

She paused to rearrange a teeny-tiny cup used as a prop.

“That’s because they’re little minds aren’t as cluttered. They’re closer to the magic. They don’t question as much. They get it, you know? It’s Dr. Seuss.”

“A Seussified Christmas Carol” continues at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 20 and 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21 at AFAA. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for children, seniors and military and are available at www.akfinearts.org or call 694-8909.

 

Contact Cinthia Ritchie at 694-2727 or cinthia.ritchie@alaskastar.com.

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