by Sue Pascoe
A radio play re-enactment of the 1939 Campbell’s Soup production of A Christmas Carol was presented by the Theatre Palisades Actors Troupe (TPAT) on December 14 at Pierson Playhouse.
About 50 Palisades residents took advantage of the free hot mulled wine and cookies before the hour-long show that included sound effects.
The tradition of presenting a radio show began two years ago with a reading of It’s a Wonderful Life, by members of TPAT, who wanted additional opportunities to perform while also celebrating the season. They repeated the show last December.
This year the talented group chose the Dickens classic, about which one critic wrote: “The 1939 Mercury Theatre production of A Christmas Carol is quite simply one of the finest adaptations of the story ever, in any medium. If you haven’t heard it, give yourself a wonderful Christmas gift this Yuletide.”
Indeed, this was a truly lovely present to the Palisades community: the story in a condensed form flowed with the gifted actors’ voices.
In the original radio show, the script was credited to Mercury’s chief radio scribe Howard Koch, as it “gracefully adapts Dickens’ text, as well as artfully inventing some dialogue and business that opens up the first scene a bit from the prose story’s largely descriptive beginning.”
Orson Welles narrated the story, and Lionel Barrymore played Ebenezer Scrooge.
Barrymore wrote in an article in the Washington Post in 1936: “One of the reasons why I enjoy playing the role of Scrooge each Christmas season over the Columbia network is the fact that I believe in ghosts. Although Scrooge was confronted with three ghosts: namely, the ghost of Christmas Past—his memory; the ghost of Christmas Present—his intuition; and the ghost of Christmas Future—his imagination, people today may have as many as seven or eight ghosts haunting them. It all depends upon their experiences, for in the innermost recesses of every human mind there are the memories of the past, the intuitions of the present and the imagination of the future.
“It is foolish to harbor awesome thoughts about ghosts for they are in reality man’s conscience and therefore his best friend. If man refuses to accept them as such, they will force themselves upon him anyway as they did upon Scrooge when he had closed his eyes and heart to the spirit of Christmas season [sic] and the joy of living.”
Fifteen members of TPAT played 30 roles, including Steve Holland as Scrooge/Lionel Barrymore and
Manfred Hofer as Orson Welles/Marley’s Ghost. The actors were nicely cast and the performances were superb Gifted performers also included Mitch Feinstein, Steve DeLuca (Bob Crachit), Mark Davidson, Sherry Coon, Julia Whitcombe (Ghost of Christmas Past), Wendy Taubin, Mary Allwright (Ghost of Christmas Present), Valerie Ruel, Charmain Glennon, Sue Hardie, Margott Rifenbark, Martha Hunter and Ava Dixon (Tiny Tim).
The chief Foley artist was Maria O’Connor, who produced footsteps, coal being shoveled in a stove, coins falling and eerie wind sounds.
All those attending received a raffle ticket, and at the end of the show, three lucky audience members received free tickets to any upcoming Theatre Palisades show and one person received a free season subscription.
All residents are urged to put a reminder out about this free TPAT performance on their calendar next December.