"What the DickensBPA stays true to the text for aholiday favorite, 'A Christmas Carol'"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:21 PM
"Theatergoers who think they know a A Christmas Carol inside and out might be surprised to learn that they've never really seen it.Not as director Stephanie Shine envisions the work, that is.Shine replaces familiar adaptations with Charles Dickens' original text in a production opening at Bainbridge Performing Arts Nov. 28. Dickensian language is as wonderful and as palatable today as it was in 1885, Shine said. Audiences should hear the story Dickens wrote - a wonderful, terrific story. Shine likens the restoration of the original text of A Christmas Carol to the restoration of an Old Masters painting. With the layers of gunk scraped away, refurbished colors glow - and minus the layers of interpretation and Disneyfication, the language breathes new life into the story.Shine further invigorates the BPA production by presenting several scenes of Christmas future that she believes have never been staged. Shine emphasizes that A Christmas Carol is not done as reader theater, which features actors reading from books, but as a fully realized stage production. The players act the narrative, meaning that the characters speak in third person, the way Dickens wrote. The cast of Christmas Carol is multigenerational; it is a rare chance for Shine to work with actors over 60 and under 10 in the same production. There are also several families with multiple members in the play.Robert Zinn returns as the misanthropic Ebenezer Scrooge; Jake Mallove is Tiny TIm; Rob Burke plays Bob Cratchit; Tristan Estridge is the Ghost of Christmas Future; Peter Sill plays Jacob Marley and Alison Hanford is featured as the Ghost of Christmas Present.Shine brings depth and breadth of theater experience to bear in her directorial career. She has acted since her mother took her to see a local production of Peter Pan as a child.'Peter Pan' was a germinal experience, Shine said. That show and music are still incredibly important to me. Then, when I was eight, I saw Zefferelli's 'Romeo and Juliet' and I decided Shakespeare was for me. I remember thinking, I need to do that.Her childhood vision proved prescient; 32 years later Shine is artistic director of the Seattle Shakespeare Company, where she has directed Hamlet, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Henry IV, Part I.A well-known actress in the Northwest, she has performed locally for the Seattle Repertory Theater, ACT, The Empty Space, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Book-It and Tacoma Actors Guild.Shine also works with Book-It Repertory Theater, transforming literature directly into theater. Shine established a relationship with Bainbridge audiences last year when she directed a familiar version of A Christmas Carol. Now, thanks to Shine and the actors, theatergoers who find Mr. Magoo smugly ensconced in their memory banks dressed in Scrooge's nightshirt, or who can only envision Dickens' London with a passel of Muppets underfoot, can supplant those images with the genuine article. Shine believes that the unadorned A Christmas Carol, as Dickens conceived it, is a vehicle for themes as pertinent today as they were 100 years ago. 'A Christmas Carol is a story of redemption, Shine said, It offers everyone hope. The work is life-affirming - it makes you feel better about your humanity. * * * * *A Christmas Carol plays at the Bainbridge Performing Arts Playhouse Dec. 8-23, with performances Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. Tickets are $18/adult and $15/senior and student, available at BPA or charge by phone at 842-8569. "