Featured Stories

Marley takes audience to hell and back

Theater presents play over next two weekends in Boring
by: contributed photo From left, Scott Caster, Justin Lazenby (in chains), Curt Hanson and Megan Murphy Ruckman make up the cast of Nutz-n-Boltz Theater Company’s ‘Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol.’

This coming weekend, Black Swan Youth Theatre will finish up its run of 'A Christmas Carol' at 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, Dec. 8-9, at GSI Community Center, 1493 N.E. Cleveland Ave.

But if you're still hungry for some more Scrooge and company, you might want to sashay down to Boring and catch 'Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol,' which premieres at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 9, in the Boring-Damascus Grange Hall, and runs through Sunday, Dec. 18.

The Nutz-n-Boltz Theater Company's production was written by playwright and novelist Tom Mula in the 1990s, and looks at the Dickens' tale through the eyes of Ebenezer Scrooge's dead business partner.

Unchain his heart

In order to escape hell, Marley must return to earth and help Scrooge find his redemption. Justin Lazenby plays the ghostly Marley, who appears in Dickens' story chained and fettered by his past sins.

'In this story you really get the back story as to how he became fettered,' Lazenby says. 'You learn that he really has more on the line to see Scrooge change than we ever knew.'

Audience members familiar with 'A Christmas Carol' will experience several 'Aha!' moments during 'Marley,' Lazenby says.

'It definitely gives them a lot of glimpses and a lot of pieces from the original story,' he says. 'It's kind of fun in that you get to see a backstage view of the original story.'

For the love of money

Happy Valley resident Curt Hanson plays Scrooge in the Nutz-n-Boltz production, and says he can somewhat relate to his character's insecurity about money.

'I was born in 1940 and raised coming out of the Depression,' he says. 'There was a time where I believed in squeezing every nickel so I can see where (Scrooge) got started.'

He adds that in this play, Scrooge has a sense of humor not in evidence in the Dickens' tale.

'It's a little warped - it's not a nice sense of humor,' Hanson adds.

Put upon boy

Sandy's Scott Caster plays eight different roles in 'Marley,' including that of an afterlife record keeper who keeps an account of every person's good and bad actions.

'Picture a very old, ancient man sitting there for thousands of years … who knows everything about you,' Caster says.

With just minutes to spare between costume changes, Caster has his work cut out for him in the play. Simple things differentiate one character from another, he says.

'With each character, it might be just one or two different pieces of clothing, a change of voice, a change of physicality,' he says.

One of the most interesting roles he plays is that of Marley's father, a cruel drunk who hates Marley when he is a boy. In one scene, the young Marley is mourning the death of his mother and begs his father for attention.

'The father tells him to go away,' Caster says, but Marley is insistent so the father picks him up and throws him into the hallway

'It's a very brief scene, that moment, but it tells a lot about why Marley became who he was, like Scrooge.'

The mind bogles

Portland's Megan Murphy Ruckman plays an impish bogle, 'sort of like a conscience for Jacob Marley.' The bogle is a devilish spirit who is 'sort of an extension of my self,' she says, adding the spirit 'is very vocal and creative and kind of sneaky, and I definitely feel like I have some of those qualities.'

Murphy says she thinks fans of 'A Christmas Carol' will enjoy this different take on the classic.

'I'm hoping that people will still leave with a warmhearted sense of community and generosity for your fellow man because we're all in the same boat,' she says.

Caster echoes Murphy's comments about the message at the heart of 'Marley.'

'No matter what you've done in your life, you can redeem yourself in the end,' he says. 'No matter how old, no matter what you've done, you get a second chance.'

If you go

WHAT: 'Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol'

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 9, 16, and Sundays, Dec. 11, 18; 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, Dec. 10, 17

WHERE: Boring-Damascus Grange Hall, 27861 Grange St.

COST: $10 adults, $8 seniors and students, free for children 6 and younger

INFO: 503-593-1295, nnbtheater.com