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Special to The Post-Star
December 17, 2007

No humbug in sight with this 'Christmas Carol'

By Bob Rose

SALEM -- Audiences can enjoy a double treat this holiday season at the recently restored Fort Salem Theater.

The world premiere of a new musical version of "A Christmas Carol" by Jeremy Blachman and Jay Kerr marks the official unveiling of the renovated main stage portion of the 37-year-old theater with its fresh decor, and updated sound and lighting equipment. Both the theater and the play are grand sights to behold.

Admirably designed and directed by Dorset, Vt., artist William John Aupperlee and choreographed by Susi Trombley, "A Christmas Carol" is a zestful production offering a bright, new look at a traditional holiday favorite featuring the miser Scrooge and the impoverished Crachit family. The setting moves from present day Salem to traditional London of long ago.

The cast, a fine mixture of professional and area amateur talent, keeps the audience focused on the story as we enjoy the singing, the humor and, of course, the ageless tale of redemption and eventual good will. Advertisement Aupperlee's set changes are accomplished mostly by some clever and awesome lighting effects. Musical direction is created by Kerr and the accompaniment is well modulated with the singing, both choral and solo.

Gordon Hazzard, originally from New York City theatrical circles, makes a perfect Scrooge and has an impressive voice for his several musical numbers. His character's transformation is totally believable as he experiences nighttime visits from his former and now deceased partner, Marley, and from Christmas Spirits One, Two and Three. These roles are convincingly portrayed by Dan Garfinkel, Ann Marie Acquilano and Ted DeBonis with Garfinkel appearing both as Marley and as Spirit Three.

Hazzard's command of his role is especially enjoyable to see and hear as he sings "I'm a Miserable Old Man" with great relish. His Scrooge obviously enjoys being miserable, to him a sign of success to be savored, until his eyes are opened by those nighttime visiting spirits. His former girlfriend, Belle, played very well by Kerri Pedimonte, also has a most pleasant voice when she joins Hazzard in singing "Belle's Song."

A group of carolers has the theater swaying with their number, "The Bells of Christmas." By the time you leave, you'll be in the true Christmas spirit. If not, then you are a Scrooge yourself and can enjoy exclaiming, "Bah! Humbug!" But, believe me, no matter how miserly you are, you won't even think of asking for your money back. It's called the magic of Christmas.

Fort Salem Theater
© 2007