SSTC presents the classic ‘A Christmas Carol’

The cast of State Street Theater Company’s production of “A Christmas Carol” sing carols at the opening of the play as a miserly Scrooge looks on. (L to R) Joe Vos, Shilo Arndt, Jennifer Deutz, Connor Markenberg, Jayda Schewe, Shaun Moldan and Robert Docherty as Scrooge. Children: Dylan Nilson (left) and Ezri Mathiowetz (right). (Photo by Susan Loose)

The State Street Theater Company (SSTC) production promises a Dickens of a good time with a staging of the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol.”

SSTC will hold three performances of “A Christmas Carol” next weekend. Performances are at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 and Saturday, Dec. 3. A 2 p.m. performance will be held Sunday.

The play tells the well-known Charles Dicken’s story of Ebenezer Scrooge (played by Robert Docherty), an old miser who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley (Elijah Friese) on Christmas Eve. Scrooge is warned to change his way and embrace the spirit of Christmas. To encourage his change, Scrooge is visited in turn by three spirits; the Ghost of Christmas Past (Marie Guggisberg), The Ghost of Christmas Present (Gwen Ruff) and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.

Director Wendy Tuttle said this production is very faithful to the original Dickens story. Little has changed in adapting the story for the stage.

Tuttle said the goal is for this play to adhere to the traditional telling of a “Christmas Carol”. Audiences are expected to be familiar with the story already and have certain expectations, but it requires a great deal of creativity to pull off the production.

Robert Docherty plays Ebenezer Scrooge.

Tuttle said the story is very episodic, with around 20 different scenes. This required cast and crew to switch between sets at a quick rate. In some cases, the cast will help move set pieces into place.

To help with scene transitions, the production will be using a “scrim.” This is a screen that is lit from behind. It will allow them to project different images. The scrim will mostly be used for street scenes. This saves the production from needing to recreate 1800s London.

In addition to sets, the production features many costumes. Tuttle estimated there are 50 different costumes worn during the play. Tuttle credited Deborah Ingle in costume design for finding or creating appropriate 1800s attire.

The production also makes use of several props. Tuttle thanked Jerilyn Kjelberg for helping create realistic props. She was especially proud of the prop food created for meal scenes.

“It looks very pretty,” Tuttle said.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Robert Docherty) meets the Ghost of Christmas Past (Marie Gugisberg). (Photo by Brenda Nielsen).

The shifting between sets, costumes and props mean the action behind the scenes at “A Christmas Carol” is almost as exciting as what happens on stage.

“There is some magic happening backstage,” Tuttle said, “so much flying in and out. We’re so lucky to have these people around.

The show has an extensive cast of nearly 30 actors and over a dozen crew members working to bring this classic to life. Tuttle described them as a well-oiled machine.

“The cast has been very diligent and patient,” she said. There are some short scenes. Some actors are only on stage for a short time and need to wait for their next time.

The cast features a range of first-time actors to veteran SSTC actors. There were also many actors from outside New Ulm joining the fun.

“It’s going to be a delight,” Tuttle said. “There is so much talent.”

Since “A Christmas Carol” is so well-known, the actors were already familiar with the roles. However, there is room for a different interpretation.

Tuttle said with the character of Ebenezer Scrooge there is an option of playing his attitude toward Christmas as angry or cynical.

She said Scrooge’s line saying every person saying ‘Merry Christmas’ should be buried with a stake of holly through his heart can be played either way. This production decided to borrow from two approaches.

Tuttle said she trusts the actors on how to play it. She praised Docherty’s interpretation which is he is crabby with his employee Bob Crachit and cynical with his nephew Fred.

Tuttle said the best part of this production was seeing everything come together. She said the cast and crew should be proud of what they have accomplished.

Tickets for “A Christmas Carol” are available at Hy-Vee, New Ulm Chamber and online at statestreetnewulm.org.


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