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
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.