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With an enthusiastic welcome from Temple Theatre's five-year artistic director, Peggy Taphorn, on December 18th, the company at Temple unfolded their final performance of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, adapted into a musical by the show's music director, Michael Hoagland. With a little Christmas magic, this classic story of Ebenezer Scrooge's fateful night with three Christmas Spirits never fails to excite audiences in any adaptation, and this was no exception.
The homey downtown location in Sanford, North Carolina, lent itself well to the festive spirit of the show. The balcony-style theatre packed in a full house for what made for an intimate performance despite the grandeur of sets, costumes, and spectacle this Carol provided. With over 35 performers to stage, Director Peggy Taphorn filled the space with cheerful characters that created a bustling spirit of holiday joy. From Tiny Tim to Ebenezer himself, the cast boasted a high-caliber performance exceeding the quality that one might expect from a small town regional theater. With notable performances from Terry Schwab as Ebenezer Scrooge and Sean Powell as Fred, this piece stands on its own as a fun and campy (as in "endearing") piece of musical theatre. Schwab brought humor and humanity to Scrooge as he suffered and rejoiced with the memories that each Christmas Spirit recalled. Powell's impressive presence engaged the audience while Michael Brocki as Bob Cratchit won their hearts with his gentleness as the head of the humble Cratchit family.
The use of puppetry in theatrical productions is growing in today's drama circle, and Temple should be commended for their incorporation of puppets with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. The ominous figure served very well as the hooded figure typically portrayed in productions of Dickens' Carol but probably would have been more effective without the cartoonish facial features, as they diverted attention from the work happening onstage. Save for this distraction and the contemporary dance number during the visit from the Ghost of Christmases Yet to Come, which seemed out of place amongst the other fun, upbeat numbers typical of the style, this A Christmas Carol delivered a delightful dose of holiday spirit. The supportive community responded with a standing ovation for the show that proves no matter how many times it is performed and adapted, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol remains a classic and an important part of the Christmas season.
Temple's season continues with Country Royalty starting January 12. For details, click here.