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A comedy of mishaps

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Christina Stock Photo Pictured left to right: Alethea Hartwell, Brian Landreth and Jan Hudson. The cast of the Roswell Community Little Theatre are having fun impersonating the inept actors of Farndale.

The Roswell Little Theatre presents mayhem in form of “The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Production of ‘A Christmas Carol'”

By Christina Stock

Vision Editor

The Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society Production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ — which is based on Charles Dickens’ beloved story — was written by David McGillivray and Walter Zerlin Jr. and is under guidance by first-time director Don James at the Roswell Community Little Theatre, 1717 S. Union Ave.

Performances are Nov. 30 to Dec. 2 and Dec. 7 to 9, with showings on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and on Sundays at 2 p.m.

If you feel any vibrations in the RCLT building, chances are that it’s from Charles Dickens’ rotating in his grave.

In a festive mood, the ladies of the Farndale Avenue Housing Estate Townswomen’s Guild Dramatic Society mount an assault on the classics with their stage version of “A Christmas Carol.” They enthusiastically portray a dizzy array of characters from the Dickensian favorite —and a few which aren’t — and engineer some novel audience participation while bravely contending with an intrusive PA system with two original, show stopping songs.

The only male role of four went to Brian Landreth, though in this play being male won’t save an actor from wearing a wig and petticoats.

“I am playing multiple characters — we all are playing multiple characters. I am playing the stage manager, I am playing Mr. Fezziwig, the ghost of Christmas past, part of the ghost of Christmas present. I am playing Jacob Marley and also Mrs. Cratchit. I have the costume I put on, the horrible falsetto voice,” Landreth said and laughed. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Alethea Hartwell has been an actor, assistant director and director at RCLT for many years. During the interview she was answering in character as Farndale actress Mrs. Reece.

“I am running the whole show. Without me, nobody would know where they are supposed to be. The lights man would turn the lights out and nothing would be to see anything. I am very commanding,” she said. For some reason Mrs. Reece is also on the look-out for foreign exchange students that might be in the audience.

James has been an actor and active at RCLT for a long time. Asked about his experience as first-time director, James said, “I say this much, it’s a learning experience for me. I am finding out things about directing that I didn’t know. When you are acting, things just seem to happen and you don’t know why. When you are directing, you find out why,” James said.

“It’s a funny play. It’s about bad acting — amateur actors that just go through all of the chaos that goes on,” James said. “There is always chaos in every play and there is always drama, but when you have amateurs who don’t know what they are doing, it’s even more funny.”

The directing style James is developing is actor-oriented. “I want the character personality but the personality of the actor or actress show itself,” he said. “I believe that yes, this is a play that has been created by somebody else, but we — in our own way — will make it our own. My personal belief is, that you need to be able to laugh at yourself if you want somebody else to laugh at you. I try to tell everybody we’re here to have fun. If we are having fun, the audience will be having fun.

“It’s funny, as chaotic as it has been for me, I am already looking for a play for next season,” James said.

Cast as Thelma and Scrooge is Monica Desjardins; cast as Mercedes and Bob Cratchit is Jan Hudson. Newcomer to the stage Richelle Harper-Juaire plays Scrooge’s nephew and sister, and the ghost of Christmas future.

Hartwell, Hudson and Landreth play several other Dickens’ characters such as the ghosts of Christmas past and present, Scrooge’s jilted fiancee, Scrooge’s pillaging servants and children who refused to play with Scrooge.

Assistant director is Michele Massey, music director and sound design are in the hands of Kathy Cook, supported by Mark Salas and Elijah Balthazar. Massey and John Bitner are in charge of the set, while Lynetta Zuber is in charge of the light design. Costumes were created by Hartwell, Massey, Christine Powell and Jeorganna Simoes. Props are thanks to Hartwell, James and Simoes. Stage manager is Sonya Brooks and run crew are Andrea James and Luke Klingsman, among others.

For tickets and more information, visit roswelltheatre.com or call 575-622-1982.