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A Dickens of a tale

<p>Photos by HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald</p><p>Scrooge (Rob Hunt) is visited by the ghost of Jacob Marley (Sydney Wilcox) in a scene from the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol,” which will be staged at the East Hawaii Cultural Center in downtown Hilo.</p><p>HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald</p><p>Carolers sing during a rehearsal for “A Christmas Carol” at the East Hawaii Cultural Center.</p><p>HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald</p><p>Carolers sing during a rehearsal for “A Christmas Carol” at the East Hawaii Cultural Center.</p>

By JOHN BURNETT

Tribune-Herald staff writer

The curtain goes up tonight on Gallery Theater’s stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol.”

Showtimes are 7 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays through Dec. 21 at the East Hawaii Cultural Center’s upstairs theater. There will also be a showing at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 20.

“It’s a great cast; really strong people. It’s gonna be quite a show this year,” said Arval Shipley, who’s directing the Yuletide staple, as he’s done eight times in the past at EHCC.

In a break from prior productions, Rob Hunt stars as Ebenezer Scrooge, a role that has always gone to Phil Taylor, a political science professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo.

“Phil said he couldn’t do it this year, that he’d be on the mainland. But he appreciated me calling him,” Shipley said.

Shipley described Hunt’s portrayal of the iconic misanthrope as “just wonderful.”

“He gives the role an entirely different dimension,” he said. “His portrayal is a little more evil, I think, the way he looks up under his eyebrows. It’s gonna be fun to have a different Scrooge.”

The cast also includes: Sydney Wilcox as the ghost of Jacob Marley; Chris Aamodt as Bob Cratchit; Paula Thomas as Mrs, Cratchit; Cara Leonard as Belle and the Ghost of Christmas Future; Byron Karr as young Scrooge; Alex Fomenko as boy Scrooge; Skylar Thomas as Ghosts of Christmas Present and Past; Dan Lindsay as Fezziwig; Dickie Motherwell as Mrs. Fezziwig; Kalani Spain as Scrooge’s nephew, Fred; and Devesha Best as Tiny Tim.

“Our little Tiny Tim is great. He’s got a raspy little voice, cute as all get out,” Shipley said. “In fact, all of the Cratchit kids are from the same family.” Rounding out the Best family credits are Tarani Best as Sarah Cratchit, Nama Best as Martha Cratchit and Vikram Best as Peter Cratchit.

“I’ve tried to do a couple of things new this year,” Shipley said. “Just before the scene where Tiny Tim died, I added this nice song going on very sweet, which sets the mood there. And I have young Scrooge and Belle singing a song to the tune of ‘Greensleeves,’ which is wonderful in itself. We’ll also be entertaining out front before the show with all the carolers and then at the intermission.

Shipley said he’s procured a snow machine, which will add to the stageplay’s realism.

“I think this is going to be our strongest production of ‘A Christmas Carol,’” he said. “The place is looking great, and we have an excellent cast, but everyone’s so busy we’ve just had to rehearse in bits and pieces, and finally we’re putting it together. But when you get good people, they’re involved in other things.”

One of those other things that Shipley’s Scrooge, Hunt, is involved with is Gallery Theater’s production of Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple.” He’ll be playing Oscar Madison — aka “Oscar the Slouch” — while Dan Nix, a well-known local Elvis impersonator, will eschew the sideburns and sequined white jumpsuit to portray the über-fastidious Felix Unger.

The production was originally scheduled to go in the fall, but opening was postponed until Jan. 18, because the actor who was originally to play Felix left the island to accept a job elsewhere.

“As soon as this opens, we’ll start working on ‘The Odd Couple.’ And I hope to live through all of it,” Shipley quipped.

Tickets for “A Christmas Carol” are $12 general, $10 seniors and students, available at EHCC, 141 Kalakaua St. Call 961-5711 for credit card purchases or more information.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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