Players Perform Unique Adaptation of Holiday Classic

The Coastal Rep's production of 'A Christmas Carol' provides greater insight as to why Ebenezer Scrooge is such a humbug.


The name alone denotes an icy anti-holiday cheer sentiment that causes robust carolers to sing softly and children to cling tighter to their Christmas presents.

But as we fling the name at any grouch that hosts humbuggery in their heart during the joyful season, how much do we really know about the iconic Ebenezer Scrooge?

The Coastal Repertory Theatre gives Half Moon Bay audiences an opportunity to learn more about this man in their unique adaptation of "A Christmas Carol."

At its opening night on Friday, the production showed another side of the miser’s so-called black heart.

“It’s become an adjective: you’re a 'Scrooge,'” said Paul Smith, an actor who portrays Ebenezer himself. “The guy isn’t against Christmas, he’s against a merry Christmas because he’s never had one.”

Based upon the book by Charles Dickens, the play was adapted for the stage by Bruce W. De Les Dernier. It's an adaptation that has only been performed a handful of times.

Director Mark Drumm has performed with De Les Dernier in the past as the characters Fred and Scrooge.

“So much of this poor man’s life went bad on Christmas day,” Drumm said. “He loses his sister, the love of his life leaves him and his business partner died.”

The adaptation depicts characters that are not commonly seen in other performances.

These rarely seen moments are filled with complications of love, cruelty of greed and the negligence of loved ones.

“It’s different from every single play or movie you’ve ever seen,” Smith said.

Smith, who gives a stellar performance with a conscious arc to his complex character — and is uncannily transformed from his real-life appearance to that of Scrooge himself — read the book three times in preparation for his role and found himself questioning unknown areas of Scrooge’s life.

“It dawned on me that the play does not mention his mother,” he said. “His father doesn’t want him so he was presumably raised by his sister.”

Yet through the misery and contempt that surrounds Scrooge’s soul there lies a tremendous deal of goodness, purity and love in the small frame of Tiny Tim.

The charming 9-year-old Brayden Campbell was perfectly cast as the tiny beacon of hope.

“Tim is caring and he’s kind to everyone,” Campbell said. “No matter what.”

Campbell said it is important to remember that Tim forgives Scrooge, despite how Scrooge treats his family and his overall sinister demeanor.

In his performance as Scrooge, Smith said the turning moment for his character was when he sees the future Tiny Tim in depleting physical condition.

“A child, a little wounded bird is a lot more life changing,” Smith said.

If Tiny Tim had one wish for each audience this holiday season, Campell said, it would be quite simple.

“He would want them to remember the true meaning of Christmas and what it’s all about,” he said.

Other star performers include Courtney Hatcher as the elegant and graceful Belle, Rob Hedges as the animated, genuine Bob Cratchit and David Rock as the jovial Fred and slowly spoiling Young Scrooge.

Each member of the cast, with the exception of the ghoulishly great Marley played by Beau Brown, portrayed several characters throughout the production.

Half Moon Bay native Stephen Kruger portrayed the gigantically jolly Ghost of Christmas Present, loyal Fezziwig, a charitable solicitor and conniving Old Joe.

“I always approach it as a scene by scene thing,” Kruger said. “Each scene is its own little bubble for me.”

His favorite character, the Ghost of Christmas Present, suited the actor’s hearty voice that made his performance larger than life and created wonderful comedic moments.

“I can’t project fun if I’m not having fun,” Kruger said.

“The music just really adds a level to it,” Drumm said, referring to the unique arrangements of classic Christmas carols featured in the production by Half Moon Bay residents Bill Barton and Michael La Guardia.

“There are so many moments you don’t see in other shows,” Drumm said. “That’s what makes it so special.”

After Friday's show, the audience and players enjoyed a Dickens-style feast topped off by an elaborate cake in the shape of a caroling book. Click to see a photo gallery of the fixings.

Performances of Coastal Repertory Theatre’s production of A Christmas Carol will run until Dec. 17. For information visit www.coastalrep.com or call (650) 726-0998.

CDs of Barton and LaGuardia's music (a sample track can be heard here) are available in the lobby at performances or through special order via the show's producer, Denise Delaney. Contact Delaney for orders (or for more information) at patty@pattyofurniture.com.

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