The Madrigal Singers perform old seasonal songs during “A Christmas Carol.” From left to right: Geri Thomas, Lauren Gutschlag, Tatyana Moore, Danielle Wright. Moore is also co-director, along with Eric George.

The Madrigal Singers perform old seasonal songs during “A Christmas Carol.” From left to right: Geri Thomas, Lauren Gutschlag, Tatyana Moore, Danielle Wright. Moore is also co-director, along with Eric George.

From regret to redemption in Dickens’ classic Christmas tale

Whidbey Playhouse ‘A Christmas Carol’ a family affair

We all know the story line.

Grouchy old guy loves money, disdains kids, Christmas and a clerk named Cratchit, not necessarily in that order.

For its holiday season family show, Oak Harbor’s Whidbey Playhouse revives and redeems the geezer named Ebenezer in the timeless classic “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 7 to 17. A dose of familiar Christmas carols led by the Madrigal Singers are also featured.

Tickets are $10.

Despite it being a well-trodden seasonal tale of redemption, regret and renewal, Charles Dickens’ story written in 1843 still manages to melt the miserly amongst us with its cast of cute kids, Scrooge’s change of heart and Tiny Tim’s perpetual plea, “God Bless Us Everyone.”

Benjamin Honeycutt, in his fourth play for the Oak Harbor community theatre, portrays Ebenezer Scrooge with just the right tones of gruffness and graciousness as the old man of money changes his ways.

During a preview performance Thursday night for family, friends and media, Honeycutt appeared genuinely shocked and chagrined by his own behavior as pointed out to him by ghosts of Christmas’ past, present and future.

His expressions match his many moods. Honeycutt seems to assume the role of Scrooge as easily as putting on the white nightshirt, bathrobe and white night cap so identified with the main character.

Other notable performances are turned in by Luke Walker, who deftly portrays the smoldering angst of Scrooge’s clerk and family man, Bob Cratchit, Diana Collette, who literally shines as Christmas Present and her pint-size daughter, Ellie Collette, who juggles four “little” roles in her first big production.

Like many of the children in the cast, she’s learning the acting craft with Would-Be-Players.

“A Christmas Carol” is not only a fun outing for the family, many of its cast are actually family, which made rehearsal time family time.

“There’s fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, a married couple playing a married couple” said producer Allenda Jenkins. “There are a lot of families in this play.”

Making their directorial debut are Tatyana Moore and Eric George, who also act and sing on stage as characters.

“I can tell you little kids listen better than the adults,” said Moore, 19. “You tell a child they need to learn their lines, they will. Adults say, ‘you’re not the boss of me.’”

Longtime Whidbey Playhouse behind-the-scenes-man Stan Thomas said he selected Christmas carols for the female quartet, the Madrigal Singers, from the 19th Century era of Dickens.

“I wanted them to be performing songs that were actual heard back then,” he said.

The universal appeal of “A Christmas Carol” is its optimistic tale of hope and possibilities, Thomas speculated.

“It’s a story about transformation,” he said. “We all want to believe we can change.”

Dicken’s dialogue makes that point perfectly clear near the play’s conclusion on Christmas morning. Scrooge’s maid is confused by her usually unbearable boss’s sudden zest for life.

She asks Scrooge, “Are you quite yourself?”

His reply:

“I hope not.”

“A Christmas Carol:” Dec. 7-17 at Oak Harbor’s Whidbey Playhouse, 730 SE Midway Blvd. Tickets: $10. www.whidbeyplayhouse.com

Ebenezer Scrooge (Benjamin Honeycutt) starts his descent from regret to redemption as the Ghost of Christmas Past (Diana Collette) guides him back in time. Whidbey Playhouse presents “A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 7 -17. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

Ebenezer Scrooge (Benjamin Honeycutt) starts his descent from regret to redemption as the Ghost of Christmas Past (Diana Collette) guides him back in time. Whidbey Playhouse presents “A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 7 -17. Photos by Patricia Guthrie/Whidbey News-Times

<address>Actors portraying the Cratchit children, some making their debut on stage, gather at home with Mrs. Cratchit. Left to right: Rhiannon Chapman, Gabrielle Eatonon (on stool), Ashley Coker, Ellie Collette, Diana Walker, Cheyenne Henson. </address>

Actors portraying the Cratchit children, some making their debut on stage, gather at home with Mrs. Cratchit. Left to right: Rhiannon Chapman, Gabrielle Eatonon (on stool), Ashley Coker, Ellie Collette, Diana Walker, Cheyenne Henson.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Benjamin Honeycutt) wonders about the Ghost of Christmas Present (Ron Wilhelm) during one scene in “A Christmas Carol.” Tickets are $10.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Benjamin Honeycutt) wonders about the Ghost of Christmas Present (Ron Wilhelm) during one scene in “A Christmas Carol.” Tickets are $10.

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