hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

Arts & Entertainment

December 10, 2012

'Christmas Carol' takes to the airwaves - on stage

HAVERHILL -- A group of actors files into a 1950s radio station for their annual production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Just before they go on air, however, the wife of famous actor Gregory Butler -- slated to portray Scrooge -- enters and informs the cast her husband can’t make it.

Panic, of course, ensues. What to do without this critical lead character? And then someone questions, “Who says Scrooge has to be a man?”

Ebenita Scrooge is born, and that’s who audiences will meet in the Spotlight Playhouse’s latest production, “A Christmas Carol, a Live Radio Play.”

An original production, this play-within-a-play is directed by Kevin Wilson of North Andover. It’s performed as if it were a radio broadcast, using the 2012 audience as the 1950’s radio production studio audience. The set is a radio studio, rather than Victorian-era England.

The show includes the occasional commercial break, as well as a table full of sound effects much like those present in radio stations back when Bob Hope and Jack Benny took to the airwaves.

“The thought of doing a radio show is twofold,” Wilson said. “This type of show takes slightly less effort, which for our actors is good as during Christmastime. Everyone is busy. And two, it is also a fun challenge. When actors step on stage to portray a character, there are so many tools they can use … mannerisms. … But a radio show strips that away and they only have their voice to work with.”

The show opens Nov. 30 at Riverside Memorial Church on Groveland Street with additional performances on Dec. 1, 7, 8 and 9.

This is the fourth year Spotlight Playhouse has performed a Christmas-themed show as a radio production. Past productions have included “Miracle on 34th Street” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

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