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NewArts 'Christmas Carol' Closes To Packed Houses

Published: December 16, 2017 at 12:00 am

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The ghost of Jacob Marley (Joseph DeVellis) was just the first of numerous spectral visitors dropping in on Ebenezer Scrooge (Graeme Malcolm ) in the 2017 NewArts cast of A Christmas Carol.  (Sandra Doscher photos)
The ghost of Jacob Marley (Joseph DeVellis) was just the first of numerous spectral visitors dropping in on Ebenezer Scrooge (Graeme Malcolm ) in the 2017 NewArts cast of A Christmas Carol. (Sandra Doscher photos)
Danny Stutman (Tiny Tim - Holly cast) delivers the famous line 'God bless us, everyone!' to Graeme Malcolm (Scrooge) in the 2017 NewArts production of 'A Christmas Carol'.
Danny Stutman (Tiny Tim - Holly cast) delivers the famous line 'God bless us, everyone!' to Graeme Malcolm (Scrooge) in the 2017 NewArts production of 'A Christmas Carol'.
Graeme Malcolm (Scrooge) confesses his newfound appreciation for Christmas to his shocked housekeeper Cara Hughes (Mrs Dilber).
Graeme Malcolm (Scrooge) confesses his newfound appreciation for Christmas to his shocked housekeeper Cara Hughes (Mrs Dilber).
Deana Marchant, left, and Ashley Raymond drew frequent laughter as an overly excitable Mrs Fezziwig and daughter Charlotte Fezziwig in the NewArts 2017 production of A Christmas Carol.
Deana Marchant, left, and Ashley Raymond drew frequent laughter as an overly excitable Mrs Fezziwig and daughter Charlotte Fezziwig in the NewArts 2017 production of A Christmas Carol.
Broadway and television star Graeme Malcolm was a perfect type to portray Ebenezer Scrooge, reprising a role he played for NewArts Producing Artistic Director Michael Unger in a number of productions of A Christmas Carol Mr Unger put on at Princeton…
Broadway and television star Graeme Malcolm was a perfect type to portray Ebenezer Scrooge, reprising a role he played for NewArts Producing Artistic Director Michael Unger in a number of productions of A Christmas Carol Mr Unger put on at Princeton, N.J.'s McCarter Theatre.
Martha (Ava Baroody), Tiny Tim (George Mecca), Peter (Jimmy Hunter), Belinda (Ellie Lemieux) in a scene from the 2017 NewArts production of A Christmas Carol. These actors were members of the Mistletoe cast of the production, which closed a very…
Martha (Ava Baroody), Tiny Tim (George Mecca), Peter (Jimmy Hunter), Belinda (Ellie Lemieux) in a scene from the 2017 NewArts production of A Christmas Carol. These actors were members of the Mistletoe cast of the production, which closed a very successful run on December 10.
A group of dancers step lively during the Fezziwigs' party scene from the 2017 NewArts production of A Christmas Carol, which concluded its run at Walnut Hill Community Church on December 10.
A group of dancers step lively during the Fezziwigs' party scene from the 2017 NewArts production of A Christmas Carol, which concluded its run at Walnut Hill Community Church on December 10.
BETHEL - In that magical moment when Tiny Tim gazed at the reformed Ebenezer Scrooge in the closing minutes of the latest recreation of NewArts production of A Christmas Carol and uttered that famous line, "God bless us... everyone," the theater at Walnut Hill Community Church went so starkly silent that you could practically hear the welled-up tears of audience members hitting the floor.
The dual cast of this year's holiday favorite under the direction of Michael Unger - who was at the helm for his 20th production - took the show's attendees on an emotional roller coaster that evoked outright belly laughs, terrified shrieks, empathy, disgust, and a whole lot of joy.
Utilizing experience gained from 18 previous years directing A Christmas Carol at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, N.J., before moving the production and a fortune in Broadway-quality Victorian-era stage sets, props, and costume pieces to the welcoming Bethel facility last year, Mr Unger coaxed an unbeatable combination of excitement and attention to detail from his multigenerational cast.
Led by an Unger/McCarter veteran, Graeme Malcolm literally became Scrooge, which had to spur each cast member to deliver their best. And since Mr Malcolm was on stage for what appeared to be more than 95 percent of the time, it was easy to see why this production could never really be regarded as "amateur."
In fact, whether it is with this perennial Dickens adaptation, or the many summer musicals Mr Unger has delivered with NewArts since his debut with Seussical The Musical in 2013, the understated director has endeavored to present what he has described to The Newtown Bee on several occasions as a "viable alternative to Broadway." He continues to do that with just a few minutes drive for most Newtown residents.
On the evening of this show, featuring the Holly cast (versus the Mistletoe cast version), Malcolm worked more than effectively with the spectacularly innocent and earnest Danny Stutman's Tiny Tim. Tain Gregory (Peter Cratchit) along with on-stage siblings Ellie Lemieux (Belinda), and Avery Siburn (Martha) worked so well with Lisa Bollacke and Tim Huber (Bob and Mrs Cratchit) that their interplay was as seamless as it was natural.
Each of the "ghosts" were precisely portrayed, from Joseph DeVellis's chain-wielding Jacob Marley to Brianna Bowman's plucky Spirit of Christmas Present, the sprightly Spirits of Christmas Past played that night by Reese Wheat, Teigan DaCunha, Matiya Koussai, Natalie McLean, and Spohia Terilli, to the looming and terrifying Spirit of Christmas Future rod puppet and its handy manipulators Jake Nicolari and Jason Winter.
The remaining cast members, who were presumably equally stellar in the Mistletoe cast version, each helped make NewArts A Christmas Carol the must-see holiday treat that had ticket holders raving on social networks. The huge group of Caroling chorus members, the exuberant dancers and guests at the Fezziwig party, and the bustling ensemble of adults and younger cast who made the many street scenes come alive are all to be credited as well.
Every since one of them helped transport their audiences, even for a few minutes, to perhaps not a kinder, gentler time, but to a place where all could bear witness to the incredible power of love and revelation - where even the most soured and hopeless among us possesses the potential to be transformed, and maybe even made to shed a few tears at the beauty of it all.

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This Week's Poll

Newtown Cultural Arts Commission is presenting or coordinating on six weeks of special events. Which event are you looking forward to the most? (Visit our Features page for a full story with details about all of these events.)

“In The Bag” exhibition, on view to September 28
0% (0 votes)
The Lords of 52nd Street concert, September 14
0% (0 votes)
Newtown Arts Festival weekend, September 15-16
50% (1 vote)
“An Evening of the Arts,” September 15
50% (1 vote)
“The Fox on the Fairway” production by Town Players of Newtown, weekends September 21-October 13
0% (0 votes)
“The Main Street Replica Project,” launching September 25
0% (0 votes)
Someday Cinema Series screenings of “The Blues Brothers,” September 30
0% (0 votes)
Photography display “In Our Rearview Mirror” by Marleen Cafarelli, et al, October 1-30
0% (0 votes)
“Love, Laughter, and Rhubarb” with Tinky Weisblat, October 3
0% (0 votes)
Newtown Day, October 6
0% (0 votes)
The 3rd Annual Newtown-Sandy Hook Restaurant Week, October 8-14
0% (0 votes)
Basket weaving workshop with Tina Puckett, October 13
0% (0 votes)
“Courageous Conversations in A Complex World,” October 17
0% (0 votes)
Live at ETH: David Wax Museum concert, October 19
0% (0 votes)
The 2nd Annual Fall Carnival at Fairfield Hills, October 19-21
0% (0 votes)
Connecticut Author’s Reading Series, October 21
0% (0 votes)
Natalie’s Open Mic, October 21
0% (0 votes)
“The Wordsmiths,” October 24
0% (0 votes)
Pianist Konstanza Chernov, October 28
0% (0 votes)
Someday Cinema Series double feature screenings of “Bride of Frankenstein” and “The Beast with Five Fingers,” October 29
0% (0 votes)
Total votes: 2