ARENAarts (note to subs: this is correct) is putting a different spin on Charles Dickens by adding a few laughs to his classic tale A Christmas Carol.
Adapted by Karen Louise Hebden and directed by Trish Theisinger at the Latvian Centre Theatre, it’s a fun-filled family show full of traditional Dickens characters – but not your usual Scrooge.
This version of A Christmas Carol features innovative performances, quick characterisations, heaps of comedy, dashes of drama and flashes of tragedy.
Yet the story remains the same: Scrooge is a miserly old man, lost in the business of making and conserving money, shunning any act of kindness or charity.
He makes it absolutely clear he has no money to give anyone but himself – until a few helpful, if somewhat eccentric, ghosts and a charming child help Scrooge to redeem himself, bringing him back to life.
“Dickens is always a bit bleak,” Theisinger said. “I couldn’t resist cheering him up a bit!
“I haven’t met an audience that doesn’t like a laugh, a bit of pathos and some lovely music chucked in for good measure.
“A Christmas Carol might be a classic but it’s also a human story about being lost and then being found.
“Given it’s Dickens, I don’t suppose the audience will expect it to be funny but humour can be found in almost all situations – so there is a mix of the dark and light.”
Classically trained at the UK’s Royal College of Music, Theisinger has spent many years in theatre, musical comedy and pantomime but has mainly worked as a singer and teacher.
She was musical director of the Kalamunda Showtime Singers for 13 years, writing and directing their twice-yearly shows.
In 2010, Theisinger was named best director for her production of Lily at the Hills Festival of Theatre and, more recently, has appeared in The Trial of CY O’Connor with ARENAarts and The Wizard of Oz at the Old Mill Theatre.
The main challenge with A Christmas Carol, she says, was adding humour to the show.
“Scrooge lost himself in his business and made bad decisions about his love life,” Theisinger said. “He was miserable although he didn’t know it.
“He made people around him miserable and if he glimpsed even a small flicker of happiness about him, he sought to extinguish it.
“The challenge was to make it funny and with the audience having a laugh, they can help cajole Scrooge out of his dark life.
“It is so much fun when he is redeemed!”
A Christmas Carol plays at 8pm November 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 26, 27 and 28 with 2pm matinees November 15 and 22. Tickets are $20, $16 concession – book on (08) 9399 9947, [email protected] or at www.trybooking.com/JHNN.
The Latvian Centre Theatre is at 60 Cleaver Terrace, Belmont.
christmas1: Willy Smeets plays Scrooge in A Christmas Carol this November. Picture: Sarah Christiner
christmas2: Ten-year-old Rohan Pierotti as Tiny Tim and Les Lee as Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol. Picture: Sarah Christiner
christmas3: James Matthews, right, is playing the young Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with Rachel Phillips as his sister Fanny. Picture: Sarah Christiner
ARENAarts is an independent, West Australian, not-for-profit arts organisation producing and supporting such projects as professional co-op shows and community theatre, as well as theatre-for-schools productions.
Our work includes such things as Wyrd Sisters, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Santa's Space Christmas, Doctor Who: Hellblossom, Northanger Abbey and The Storykeeper.
We aim to provide creative opportunities in the arts to encourage the growth of local, grassroots arts projects and to create works to reach new and existing audiences.
Since 1988, we have produced more than 155 arts projects, which have had more than 4300 performances for an audience in excess of 1 million.
ARENAarts community theatre productions are completely run by volunteers, from the actors to the director, as well as everyone involved behind the scenes. The productions are held at a variety of venues all across the Perth metropolitan area. They are tremendous fun and a great way to learn skills and make friends. Great for those just starting out in the industry as well as seasoned performers.
ARENAarts co-op productions are the perfect opportunity for anyone wishing to put on a professional production but are in need of funding, set and props and/or mentorship.
ARENAarts theatre-for-schools program offers touring educational productions that cater for junior to upper primary children. Productions include the very successful The Storykeeper which has been running for more than 20 years.
P: 0404 003 492