Center Theater to present ‘A Dickens Carol’ on stage in December

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DOVER-FOXCROFT – Benjamin Johnston has been involved in productions at the Center Theater for the Performing Arts since he was 5 or 6 years old. The first show he remembers being cast in is “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, which premiered in 2011.

DOVER-FOXCROFT – Benjamin Johnston has been involved in productions at the Center Theater for the Performing Arts since he was 5 or 6 years old.

The first show he remembers being cast is “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which premiered in 2011. Johnston, now 17 and a student at Foxcroft Academy, rehearses for three characters in the upcoming production of theater holiday, “A Dickens Carol” – Santa Claus, Ghost of Christmas Present and Alistair Winterfezz.

The Slightly Off-Center Players, a community theater company, presents “A Dickens Carol” by Ned Crowley from December 17th to 19th. After the COVID-19 pandemic left the arts in limbo, those involved at the Center Theater are anxiously awaiting the holiday show.

Photo by Observer / Valerie Royzman
From left to right, Patrick Myers, Grace Wasel, Logan Leavitt, Terra Morriso, Evelyn Wasel and Lori Knack rehearse on November 26, 2021 for “A Dickens Carol” at the Center Theater for the Performing Arts in Dover-Foxcroft. The Slightly Off-Center Players, a local theater group, is mounting the production and shows are scheduled from December 17-19.

The theater hasn’t offered any full production since late 2019, except for outdoor performances for its children’s and high school programs this summer, and a small show with a three-member cast last December, the director said. executive Patrick Myers.

“Because of the pandemic, we were going to do ‘Oliver! ” [in the spring of 2020], but it was canceled, unfortunately, ”Johnston said during rehearsal on Friday. “It’s like upgrading. Everyone returns to the theater. We can get together with friends and do a show again.

“Plus, it’s about the Christmas spirit. You want to put on a good show with a message. Every year, it’s a tradition.

“A Dickens Carol” is scheduled for December 17th at 7:00 PM; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on December 18; and 2 p.m. on December 19 at the Center Theater. Tickets are $ 14 in advance and $ 16 at the door. Tickets for theater members are $ 12 for adults and $ 6 for children 12 and under.

Photo by Observer / Valerie Royzman
Director Derrick Buschmann sits in the auditorium and provides comments as the cast members rehearse “A Dickens Carol” on November 26, 2021 at the Center Theater for the Performing Arts in Dover-Foxcroft.

The production uses biographical information about Charles Dickens to tell the story of a workaholic writer who discovers the true meaning of Christmas. Based on his own research, director Derrick Buschmann said the playwright took out an artistic license to dramatize certain events.

“Honestly, I find the show more emotionally engaging than any version of ‘A Christmas Carol’,” Buschmann said, adding that Dickens’ background, his attachments to family and friends and others elements are explored. “You have more emotional investment in Dickens than you have [Ebenezer] Scrooge.

Myers, who plays Dickens and first got involved with the Center Theater 16 or 17 years ago, agreed. Scrooge’s character feels one-dimensional at times, and Dickens has a wife, kids, editors, and other connections in his life. “There is more to sink your teeth into,” he said.

Johnston enjoys playing the ghost of the Christmas present because the character is “honest and very cheerful, but also tries to teach Dickens a lesson,” he said.

From left to right, Patrick Myers, Grace Wasel, Terra Morriso, Evelyn Wasel and Logan Leavitt listen to Derrick Buschmann, the production manager, comment on their performances during the rehearsal for “A Dickens Carol” on November 26, 2021, at the Center Theater for the Performing Arts at Dover-Foxcroft.

Lori Knack, 55, plays Kate Dickens, the main character’s wife. She enjoys being involved with slightly off-center players as it allows her to have fun with other community members and transports her to a quieter world.

“It’s really good to hear someone else’s opinion on what you think is good acting,” she said. “In your mind you think you’re doing really well, then hearing Derrick give you his criticisms makes you think and think about how you could best do that.”

During the rehearsal on Friday morning, Buschmann sat in the auditorium and watched a small group of actors walk through a stage. He offered his comments, telling the cast to project their voices and, in some cases, choose a focal point in the distance, such as a wall lamp or speaker, so their eyes don’t stray.

Behind the scenes, Kristen Gilbert – the costume director, who is also married to Buschmann – adapted the actors for their costumes. Her favorite part of the productions is the first dress rehearsal, when all the cast members are together and dressed for their roles.

“Some people really have a hard time getting into character fully,” she said. “Then they put on the costume, and that’s what they are. The transformation is quite fun to watch.

Productions in local theaters take a lot of time and hard work, and elements are reinvented as the show takes shape. Buschmann came up with a unique metaphor, comparing sounds, lights, costumes and props to a cake or a house.

“You have to plan, you have to design, you have to redesign… you have to take the part that you love the most and get rid of it because you won’t have the time or the budget or you just don’t. I’m not going to work in space, ”he said. “There are 16 different versions of this show that have come and gone in my head. It’s just slowly pairing up and as we get closer it becomes the show that it becomes. “

Knack stressed the importance of live theater, especially during a pandemic. Performances from a local cast offer hope and positivity to community members and families, she said.

“I think it puts the magic back into the holidays,” she said. “It really is.”
To purchase tickets for the show online, visit the Center Theater website.


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