Dorset Players capture Christmas spirit in "Bah, Humbug!"

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DORSET — Among many masterpieces, "A Christmas Carol" was, perhaps, Charles Dickens' most enduring popular work.

 

As such, more than a century after it was written, and after having been adapted for the silver screen and the stage on countless occasion, the story from this holiday staple is now on grand display courtesy of The Dorset Players, and starring more local schoolchildren than can possibly be counted when they appear on stage together.

 

The musical theater adaptation now on stage at Dorset Playhouse is "Bah, Humbug!" by Rebecca Ryland with music and lyrics by Bill Francoeur, and directed by Jennifer Lynne Repinski with Scott Repinski as technical director.

 

The Repinskis are a great choice to lead this production, given its cast of young actors. Jennifer last acted with Dorset Players while in high school, and now teaches at Flood Brook School in Londonderry, where she has also directed the children's theatre for the past 19 years.

 

Scott, who with his wife has helped produce more than 20 student production at Weston Playhouse over the years, is a seasoned theater presence, having worked and been on stage since 1979 at venues such as Red Foxx Theatre Company and the American Shakespeare Theatre Company.

 

The show followed the original storyline of 1840 London as well as it can be portrayed on stage, and the flow of 14 different song and dance numbers were moved along nicely by short spurts of dialogue, mostly between key characters.

 

The twist in this adaptation was that some of the traditionally male roles, such as Bob Cratchit, were converted to female actors, and it worked nicely overall. When you're watching any version of the classic Dickens tale, a little imagination from the audience can go a long, long way.

 

Of note were the efforts of Nickolas Burbank (Scrooge), Rebecca Leili (Beth Cratchit), Molly Flint (Tiny Tim) Aidan Kennedy (Jacob Marley) and Evelyn Mulroy (Fran). But really, the whole cast of almost 30 kids did a fantastic job, and the near-full house on opening night could tell they were having fun on stage the entire time.

 

The other part of the production was the technical side, which, once again, showed that Dorset Players is one of the top community theaters to be found anywhere in the country.

 

The set (Zach Repinski, Drew Hill, Errol Hill, Trevor Dryden, Bill Cruikshank) was a visual feast. Lights and sound (Casey Mara), props (Melvin Twitchell), and oh those costumes were professional grade and impressively done from start to finish.

 

Mr. Repinski's astute technical direction demonstrated his background in professional theater, and Ms. Repinski, who also tackled make up and costume design, deserves to take at least an equal bow for that work on top of her artistic direction.

 

Stage managers Amanda Leili and Maggie Brown did an exceptional job keeping the cast on time and target.

 

Finally, one can't evaluate this delightful show without a tip of the cap to the musical accompaniment of pianist Gary Schmidt, whose lively and even at times frisky play perfectly complemented the flow of action and actors' efforts.

 

In short, "Bah Humbug" is Christmas fun at its best: a fresh take on a classic with the added energy and innocence of youth in the cast.  You want a nice night out with the family, especially the kids?  This event delivers on that promise, and at one hour and 15 minutes, there will be no problems with restless young-uns squirming in adjacent seats.

 

The cast even has a little surprise for audience kids at the end; but I'm not tellin' what.

 

"Bah, Humbug!" runs through Dec. 11 at The Dorset Players, Dorset Playhouse. For tickets and information call 802-867-5570 or visit doresetplayers.org

 

Reach award-winning freelance journalist Telly Halkias on Twitter: @TellyHalkias


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