Maui OnStage ushered in the holiday season last weekend with a rendition of Charles Dickens' classic tale "A Christmas Carol." Part morality story, part holiday celebration, the production spanned a broad range of moods, from dark and disconcerting to fun and festive.
The show told the story of Scrooge's transformative Christmas Eve encounter in the form of short scenes, separated by interludes of Christmas carols sung by a four-part a capella chorus and sweet moments featuring adorable young angels. These transitional pieces slowed the pace and made the show seem a bit disjointed, but they brought a light, cheery quality to an otherwise serious play.
The production featured some talented actors, many of whom played more than one role. Mark Collmer was the irascible Ebenezer Scrooge, who experiences a life-changing epiphany with the help of three Christmas spirits. Collmer put his heart into the role, giving Scrooge a human quality even in his most unsympathetic moments.
Mark Collmer as Scrooge
JESSICA PEARL photo
Lee Garrow played the eerie ghost of Jacob Marley. This skillful actor brought a bit of humor and a lot of urgency to his pivotal scene. L. Gracie Clark played the ethereal Ghost of Christmas Past and the ominous Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. Jason Strahn was a sincere Ghost of Christmas Present.
Chris Kepler played a lively Fred, Scrooge's nephew who champions Christmas cheer even when his uncle declares, "Christmas is a humbug!" Reuben Carrion was equally animated in the role of Scrooge's clerk, Bob Cratchitt, who remains loyal to his employer despite poor treatment and low pay. Marley Mehring was an endearing Tiny Tim, Cratchitt's crippled but indomitable son.
Zeb Mehring, a strong young actor, played Ebeneezer as a boy, while Michael Pulliam played Scrooge as a young man. Robyn Grahn was Belle, the girl young Scrooge meant to marry. Grahn gave a passionate speech lamenting the change in Scrooge's personality as his obsession with money grew.
Other talented actors included R. Sebastiano Taft as young Ebenezer's kind employer Fezziwig; Marilyn Hirashima as Mrs. Fezziwig; Ikaika Ahina as Old Joe, Dick and Belle's husband; Beth Garrow as Mrs. Cratchitt; Hannah Patrick as Belinda Cratchitt; Gesen Nisley as Martha Cratchitt; Nathan Sullivan as Peter Cratchitt; Aki Kepler as Fred's wife; and Ashlyn-Jade Aniban as the maid. The angels and street children were Maile, Pua and Kiele Kepler, Lola Kummer, Kaya Starr Glomb, Bailey Keller and Carver Jaden Glomb.
Talented singers Gesen Nisley, Diana G. Clark Crim, Cameron Keys, R. Sebastiano Taft and Marilyn Hirashima performed the Christmas carols.
The production crew included director Lehua Simon, stage manager Shawndra Davis, lighting designer Loran Thomas, sound designer Dawn Harper, musical director and dialogue coach Steven Dascoulias, set designer Caro Walker and costume designer Lynda Timm.
As I walked out of the theater at the end of the show, I felt the urge to break out the Christmas decorations and start baking cookies. "A Christmas Carol" is a celebration of the generosity, merriment and love that Christmas represents, and a fun way to kick off the season.
* "A Christmas Carol" plays at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 3 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 12, at the Historic Iao Theater. Tickets are $18 and $16 for seniors and students. Call 242-6969 for tickets.