'The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge' to delight fans of classic tale
Last summer, Oregon City High School drama teacher Karlyn Love read one Christmas-themed play after another, searching for the right one to direct. Finally, after almost 20 tries, she encountered a script that made her laugh out loud.
That was when she knew "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge" was the one.
The play checked off all the boxes for Love. It is entertaining, school appropriate, has a big cast, and most importantly, it will educate her students.
The play "takes place on Christmas Eve, one year after the events in 'A Christmas Carol,' by Charles Dickens," Love said. "Scrooge decides to sue all the ghosts and [former business partner] Jacob Marley for pain, suffering and kidnapping."
Love said she was surprised to find that many of her students had not read or seen "A Christmas Carol," so she found a play version for them to read aloud. She also asked them to watch as many movie versions as they could find, so they would have the experience of knowing the source material.
All the beloved characters from "A Christmas Carol" appear in "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge."
"The Cratchits are there, all the ghosts, there's a delightful Tiny Tim-like bailiff in the courtroom, and they all have to testify," Love said.
In addition, there is a crabby judge and a high-powered lawyer who defends the ghosts.
"We didn't have enough boys audition for the play, so I asked Dennis Kelly if he would come and play the role of the lawyer," Love said, noting that Kelly has appeared in a number of Clackamas Repertory Theatre productions.
"It was fun working with him and watching the kids respond to a professional actor. He inspires them; role modeling is the most powerful teacher," she said.
Mark Brown, the author of the play, "very cleverly uses dialogue from 'A Christmas Carol,' and the last 10 minutes of the play are very Christmasy, without being hokey," Love said.
It turns out that Scrooge is suing the characters for "an ulterior reason, so there is a twist at the end," she added.
Audiences will like "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge" even if they have not seen or read "A Christmas Carol."
"If they know [the story], they will delight in the cleverness of how the original story is used, and if they don't know the story they will like the humor in the courtroom scene," Love said.
Brown wrote a blurb about how and why he created "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge." Love is putting that piece in the program for everyone to read.
"After 9/11, he noticed how we all got caught up in kindness, and then it was gone. He said that made him think about Scrooge and 'A Christmas Carol.'"
There are many people in the original story who don't care about Christmas or spreading the Christmas spirit, and Brown felt that "we should promote kindness all year long," Love said.
Senior Taryn McGhee plays the iconic role of Scrooge and said he can relate to the character, as he gets stressed out during the holidays.
To prepare for the role, he "watched just about every iteration of 'A Christmas Carol' there is." He focused on the funnier versions of the classic tale, so that he could figure out how to "capture a lot more of the humor."
McGhee said he ultimately decided to make Scrooge less bitter and more sarcastic in order to bring that character to life.
Audiences will like that the play "reinforces the message about when and how we should feel the Christmas spirit," he added.
Jaedon Lewis, also a senior, plays Marley, who was Scrooge's only friend.
"Marley was not a good person," Love said, so that when he died "he haunts the Earth until he can do good deeds. In 'A Christmas Carol,' he gets Scrooge to redeem himself."
What Lewis likes best about the character is that he "gets to be out there as a ghost. I get to be big and make a lot of choices — it's fun."
Although the play is humorous, it has a serious message.
Lewis added: "The lesson is be a good person all year-round, not just one day. Be charitable and merciful."
What: The Oregon City High School Theatre Arts Department presents "The Trial of Ebenezer Scrooge," by Mark Brown
When: 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6, 7, 8 and 9
Where: Oregon City High School Auditorium, 19761 S. Beavercreek Road
Details: Tickets are $8 and are only available at the door — no advanced ticket sales. The play is suitable for children age 10 and up.
More: Visit ochspioneers.org/drama or call 503-785-8980.