Based on Charles Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol,” Fuse Productions’ third annual performance of “Scrooge!” is the ultimate tale of transformation and redemption. The story teaches that you can’t change the past, but you can do something about the present. The real beauty of the story is that even the most unhappy person in the world can change.
The show is directed by Richard Biever and choreographed by Jill A. Brighton.
Biever said it isn’t just a Christmas story.
“The core of the story is about personal transformation, and that is needed throughout the year, not just at Christmas,” he said. “And the transformation that occurs is not just what happens to Scrooge, but what happens to the entire community. I find that to be as profound as Scrooge’s realization.”
This year’s production has several new cast members, including Wil Hutton as Jacob Marley, Mike Waldhier as Mr. Fezziwig, and Heidi Biever as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Also new to the cast this year are several children, who bring a renewed energy and sense of excitement to the stage.
Featured child actors include Parker Hanawalt, a fourth-grader at Radio Park Elementary School in State College. Hanawalt plays the part of a boy on the street who helps Scrooge get a turkey for the Bob Cratchit family, during the part of the story where Scrooge is transforming into a better person.
Though he is not as familiar with the story as others, Hanawalt said he understands the true and timeless spirit of Christmas.
“I think it means that people should not act mean like Scrooge was in the beginning, but should be kind,” he said.
What has remained unchanged for this production is the presence of Tom McClary‘s return as the title character, Ebenezer Scrooge. McClary has acted and directed with State College Community Theatre.
“We are so fortunate to have an actor of his talent and ability to take on this massive role,” Biever said. “The success of the show is due largely to Tom, and I am incredibly grateful to him for taking it on a third time.”
“This year we have a number of new cast members, which always makes things fresh and interesting because different people bring new perspectives to characters,” McClary said. “As for myself, I am always trying to discover something new about Scrooge because he is such a rich and complex creation. These two aspects together make this third production challenging and very enjoyable.”
Among the many community members involved in the show is Sandra Rockwell, who plays the role of Mrs. Dilber, one of the many local merchants indebted to Mr. Scrooge. This is also Rockwell’s third year in the role, and she said it has been a blessing to be a part of this talented cast.
“Our first night of rehearsal was like a family reunion — everyone was smiling, hugging, laughing and eager to get started,” she said.
Because they work so hard and see so much of each other, the all-age cast becomes a true family , which furthers the moral of the classic Christmas tale.
“I have always really loved performing with people at all different stages of life and theater experience,” McClary said. “This is especially important for a community-based organization, because the show truly reflects the values and character of its audience and its participants.”
“The smiles and interactions you see on stage are absolutely real, because we truly care about one another,” Rockwell said. “It has been a joy to work with many different people and kids especially. It gives you an opportunity to mentor children and watch them grow.”
“I’ve enjoyed becoming friends with other kids in the show,” Hanawalt said. “This is my first time working in a show with adults and it’s fun to watch them perform.”
Whether or not theatergoers are familiar with this classic Christmas tale, there are many levels on which people can appreciate this musical.
“They watch as Scrooge transforms from a grumpy, emotionally unavailable old man to a kind spirit with a grateful heart. To me, this story is a message of hope, transformation and family values,” Rockwell said.