Old and New, Carol Still Seduces

Playhouse Nears Performance 1,000

You’d think there was nothing new to say about A Christmas Carol in its 37th year at the Omaha Community Playhouse. And you’d think, after the big spread in the daily about its NET documentary airing Friday, as the Dickensian delight opens, that I’d devote this space to other theater.

After all, Mirror of the Invisible World, the Mary Zimmerman play directed by Cindy Melby Phaneuf, opens at the University of Nebraska at Omaha this week, and Council Bluffs offers Chanticleer continuing Music Man Jr., with a young Harold Hill and Marian the Librarian, and Iowa Western Community College serving youth with the musical Fame.

But, no, the fascination of finding what’s both old and new about Carol still seduces me. It’s not just the obvious returnees such as Jerry Longe as Scrooge, plus Mike Farrell and Julie Huff as Ghosts, but long-bearded Jim Spain back as “Organ Grinder.” When promos for the NET show referred to a cast from 7 to 70, I’m wondering: “Is Jim that young?”

And the new or relatively new cast members intrigue me. Once the Priesman family and others appeared plurally on stage, but noticeable this time was that resident director Amy Lane was joined by husband Ted as “Poultry Vendor” and fair-haired son Donovan, a familiar figure on her Facebook wall, in the children’s ensemble.

One suspects that young Camille Adair as Little Bo Peep might be the offspring of Julian Adair who choreographs and guides such productions as the upcoming Nutcracker Delights. A rising star named Ashton Taylor will perform as the giddy Lucy and, as always, there’s another young Tiny Tim, Kian Roblin. He reminds us that the original Tiny Tim, Scott Davis, son of actress Barbee and my high school classmate Ted Davis, is now nearly 50 and too large for Longe to lift to his shoulder.

So we’ll get misty-eyed again on preview night and we’ll watch the documentary. It’s praised by those who’ve seen it, so we’ll forgive the rather lame title, “Casting Call to Curtain Call.” I’m also an alliteration addict, but trite is trite.

This run will bring the 1,000th performance, and I’m not sure that includes the touring companies, once three, but now two. An even more impressive number would be to tally up all the millions of income resulting from the genius of Charles Jones, who adapted the classic, and John Bennett, who arranged the music.

 

Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to coldcream@thereader.com.

 

posted at 10:10 am
on Sunday, November 11th, 2012

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