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Classic Christmas story gets additional spirits for HCP production

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By Robert Villanueva

Take a classic Christmas story, add allusions to “The Wizard of Oz,” stir in what amounts to a ghostly Greek chorus and you’ll have an idea of what to expect from Hardin County Playhouse’s latest production, “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.”

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“I wanted to provide a spectacle,” HCP artistic director Bo Cecil said.

“A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas” is a version of the perennially favorite story with bleaker elements and more ghosts.

When perusing scripts Cecil searched for one that wasn’t “like putting a novel on stage,” yet retained all the familiar elements of the story. The script he chose, he believes to be an homage to “The Wizard of Oz” because some of the lines seem to be directly lifted from the movie.

The production also is somewhat bleaker, incorporating rainy weather versus snow and adding ghosts that act as a kind of Greek chorus, which provides insight to scenes. The ghostly aspect is emphasized for effect.

“I think it’s important to go through the creepy factor to have the satisfying conclusion,” Cecil said.

The familiar main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, is portrayed by Mitch Curry.

“I think we all can identify with parts of Scrooge,” Curry said.

The three ghosts who visit Scrooge, after the visit by the ghost of his dead former partner, have corporeal alter egos, characters who appear in scenes before the ghostly visitations.

Carrie Rhea, who portrays the Ghost of Christmas Past, described her alter ego as fearful of Scrooge but her ghostly character as “benevolently menacing.”

“What she does is pick the scabs off Scrooge’s wounds and pours salt on them,” Rhea said.

The Ghost of Christmas Present, portrayed by Josh Logsdon, is more of a “real guy” with a dual nature, starting out happy, the actor said.
“Toward the end he gets a little dark,” Logsdon said.

By the time the Ghost of Christmas Past appears, Scrooge dreads the visit because he believes the fate shown to him is unavoidable, Curry said.

“He’s always the one Scrooge says he fears the most,” Mike Waters, who plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, said.

But the ghost is simply showing him one possible future, Waters said.
“It’s almost like ‘The Terminator,’” the actor said.

At its core, the production is still a reminder of the important aspects of the season during which goodwill and higher ideals should be most important, Cecil said. And the storyline of someone discovering this will resonate with most everyone.

“I think we all can relate with not being as good a person as we could be,” Cecil said.

Performances are 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Dec. 15 through 17, and 3 p.m. Sunday and Dec. 18 at Plum Alley Theater in the Historic State Theater complex.

Tickets cost $15 general admission and $13 for those 55 and older, students, military and military dependents and groups of 10 or more. For more information, call (270) 351-0577.

Robert Villanueva can be reached at (270) 505-1743 or rvillanueva@thenewsenterprise.com.