Lifestyle

Holiday classic comes to the Valley

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Happy holidays Valley Record readers. Many wonderful events are planned for the holidays in the Valley. There's the Holiday Bazaar Dec. 11 at Si View Community Center, 400 S.E. Orchard St. in North Bend; the Christmas in the Cascades festivities that will decorate the town Christmas tree Dec. 11 at the Mount Si Senior Center; and on Dec. 3, the Unity Theater unveils its first community theater production.

Under the direction of yours truly, the Unity Theater presents "A Christmas Carol," running Friday and Saturday nights from Dec. 3 through Dec. 18. Sixteen Snoqualmie Valley adults and children bring Dickens' classic tale to life using the original text from the book in story theater style.

Story theater is a technique where the actors both tell the story and act in scenes simultaneously. This technique and adaptation was devised by Paul Sills, the famous director and founder of Chicago's Second City Improv Company. His story theater productions have won Tony awards on Broadway.

The cast has been willing to learn story theater technique from me, as I am a protege of the late Viola Spolin, legendary mother of improvisation who also happens to be the mother of Paul Sills. The show was rehearsed using Spolin's theater games. Many cast members get their first stage experience in this production. I must say, I have had a great time working with this wonderful group of local players.

The young actors performing in this production are: Paul Nelson (Tiny Tim); Summer Nash (Belle/Martha); Sarah McCullum (Peter); Alex Shecterson (Peg); Abbie Grimstad (Fan/Belinda/Chorus); Sean Stone (Young Eb/Fred); Jacob Barrus (Younger Ebenezer/Turkey Boy); Alyce Titus (Girl About Town); Rebekah McFarland (Flora); and Gusten Grimstad (Postboy). Adults in the cast are Tove Titus (Mrs. Cratchit); Rob Boose (Bob Cratchit/Fiddler/Miner); Bill Stone (Solicitor/Miner); Avery Ash (Solicitor/Christmas Present); Leslayann Schecterson (Ghost of Christmas Past); Ed Benson (Jacob Marley/Fezziwig); and Gary Schwartz as Scrooge. We will also feature other local actors in the production not mentioned above, including North Bend Mayor Ken Hearing.

Dickens published "A Christmas Carol in 1843" as a novella, and watched it become a holiday favorite. Today it is arguably the most-adapted non-Biblical Christmas story. At its center is Ebenezer Scrooge, the surviving partner of Scrooge and Marley, a business that places profit above all else. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is his usual miserly self, chasing off solicitors for the poor, chastising his sole employee, Bob Cratchit, for wanting to take off Christmas Day and insulting his nephew Fred for celebrating a holiday that "has never put a penny in anyone's pocket." But that night Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his dead partner, who portends the arrival of three spirits who will attempt to show him the desolate path he has chosen and offer him a chance to correct his ways.

It is a story that continues to touch hearts, no matter how often it has been seen.

Unity Theater is on the second floor of the Masonic Lodge, 119 North Bend Way in North Bend, one-half block east of Bendigo Way above the new Singletrack Cycle Shop.

The theater opened last January and has been presenting variety and improvisation entertainment in North Bend for the past year. "A Christmas Carol" is the theater's first full-scale community production and, hopefully, not the last. I would like to encourage everyone to audition for future productions and come and study this wonderful type of acting training that allows everyone the opportunity to play and become "stageworthy." More information about this technique can be found at www.spolin.com.

The show runs for three weeks in December. Regular performances at 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays on Dec. 3 and 4, Dec. 10 and 11 and Dec. 17 and 18. There will be a preview of the evening performance on Saturday, Dec. 11, at Si View during its Holiday Bazaar between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., and another prior to the Christmas tree lighting ceremony, at 5 p.m. at the Mount Si Senior Center. On Saturday, Dec. 11, the show will start at 8 p.m. to allow everyone to partake in all the festivities that day.

Regular ticket prices are $15 for adults and $10 for seniors and kids under 12. For tickets and information, call the Unity Theater Box Office at (425) 831-5667 or go online at www.unitytheater.org. Tickets will also be available at two local outlets who've graciously agreed to be our box office partners: Nature's Marketplace, located next door to the theater at 119 North Bend Way, and a new business, eDepot, an Internet eBay selling service at 410 E. North Bend Way, next door to the QFC.

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