Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Scrooge A Hit on and Off Stage

Roving Pittsburgher Report, Scrooge A Hit on and Off Stage

by Good News Reporter, Joanne Quinn-Smith

with additions by Anaiyah Thomas

Have you ever thought about the story line behind "A Christmas Carol" from a pre or grade-schoolers point of view?  While as adults or even adolescents or teens, we think it is an amazing feel good tale of repentance and salvation and find the detestable Scrooge to often be comical.  But remember that part of the story is about his partner Marley "haunting him" in chains with eerie noises.  Well this year while perusing the resurrected Macy's windows and after trying to get her to watch A Christmas Carol on television, my granddaughter seemed to show some interest, in fact excitement.  She was fascinated by the window treatment of the CLO "A Musical Christmas Carol."


So on Friday, December 5, 2015, her mom got her dressed in an adorable dress and jewelry and off we went to see what has become one of Pittsburgh's Christmas traditions with Tom Atkins as Scrooge.  Here's an aside, did you know that not only is he a Pittsburgh native but he made his fame as an actor in the horror genre? Tom is also a Broadway actor but in Pittsburgh he is "Scrooge" at Christmas time and he does the role well and is one of Pittsburgh's most beloved characters during the holiday season, 2015 being his eighth year running to play the role. What a role for an actor as he goes from his Bah! Humbug! attitude to a joyous reveler and philanthropist.  There is an opportunity for Atkins to play everything in between and he does it with passion and lets you know he is having fun doing it.


For those of you who have been hiding under a rock for years and do not know this is the plot line. Scrooge is pretty much the meanest, most loathsome, feared, despised and ridiculed man in town who does not believe in fair treatment of his employees, Christian charity, human kindness or even giving a day off for Christmas to his employees.  Eventually convinced he retires to his lonely room to contemplate the ridiculous custom of Christmas with all its trappings including caroling, not giving a thought to his kind employee Bob Cratchet with his barely existing family of five children and the sickly Tiny Tim.  The fates descend upon Scrooge in the night with a last ditch effort at redemption starting with visits from his former, equally odious partner, Jacob Marley and running through three ghosts of Christmas. The resulting story telling leads to emotional action and dialogue running from pathos to mirth, but always entertaining


There are too many delightful characters to .mention all but in addition to Scrooge of course, my granddaughter and I had a couple of favorites.  Terry Wickline plays the dual role of Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge's toddy tipping housekeeper and Mrs. Fezziwig, the bubbly, bounteous wife of the town socialite; good cheer reveler and generous business man. She wisecracks and totters through the role of Mrs. Dilber with a vaudevillian style that will have you laughing out loud.  As Mrs. Fezziwig she plays a delightful airhead full of energy and fun and you have no doubt that her party invitations are the most sought after in town.

Her husband is played by Tim Hartman who has multiple roles as Charity Worker/Businessman/Mr. Fezziwig/Ghost of Christmas Present). This is his 23rd year in Pittsburgh CLO's A Musical Christmas Carol.  His tall stature alone makes him stand out but he rolls through his various characters so distinctively that it leaves you wondering "was that the same guy who played…?"  As Mr. Fezziwg he is madcap and merry and a master of slapstick humor.  He is imperious and almost Shakespearean as the ghost of Christmas Present, then humble and endearing as a charity worker.  My granddaughter Anaiyah thought it was hysterical when he came out of the crowd for one of the final scenes and leaned over to one of the audience to say, "You can wake up now, it's almost over."


These holiday events are made for memories and one of Anaiyah's best will always be a chance encounter on Sixth St. with Tom Atkins.  As he was walking by, he leaned over to say, "Did you like the show?" Of course she was bubbling over with enthusiasm, he then said, "I played Scrooge. Hey how about a hug, sometimes Scrooge needs one because nobody likes him." After she recovered her surprise, she said, "Grandma, you should have taken my picture with Mr. Scrooge."  Yes grandma should have but she was equally surprised and she was lagging a bit behind this enthusiastic seven year old.  But Anaiyah will always have that memory of a warm and friendly Pittsburgh/Broadway actor who stopped her on the street to bring a warm moment down from the stage.  She could of course, not wait to tell her Mom and Dad when they picked us up that she met Scrooge.
We did however immortalize our day by having our picture taken complete with hat and scarves on the Christmas red carpet.  I suggest both couples and families do the same to preserve this memory.

Lots of time left to create this memory with a musical show that has something for everyone.  The show runs at the Byham Theater through December 23, 2015.

Joanne Quinn-Smith, Award winning internet radio broadcaster, blogger, author and internet radio and TV network editor and publisher. Joanne is the owner and CEO, Creative Energy Officer, of Dreamweaver Marketing Associates, a successful Pittsburgh-based marketing company. Joanne is internationally known as the “Get Your Google On” Gal. But better known as Techno Granny™ to over one million accumulated online listeners worldwide. Joanne has created a revolutionary online NEW MEDIA platform in Internet broadcasting, blogging and other social media participation. JQS is the online publisher of PositivelyPittsburghLiveMagazine.com, an online community magazine to disseminate the Positive News for Positive Pittsburghers. PPL Mag is Pittsburgh’s First Internet radio and TV network with syndicated channels and online radio and TV capabilities. 

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