Hedgerow Theatre presents ‘A Christmas Carol’

Susan Wefel as Mrs. Fezziwig in “A Christmas Carol” at Hedgerow Theatre. Photo by Ashley LaBonde

On November 24, Hedgerow Theatre kicks off its 25th annual Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol,” the timeless story of the redemption of a man to his better self . “We choose to shut ourselves off from our humanity, and we can choose to embrace it,” said adaptor and director Jared Reed, who will stage the show with favorite Christmas carols, in Hedgerow’s 1840s grist mill theatre.

Dickens’ story was first published in London on December 19,1843 and the first edition sold out by Christmas Eve. “A Christmas Carol” tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an old miser, who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

Dickens captured the zeitgeist of the mid-Victorian revival of the Christmas holiday. He  influenced the modern Western observance of Christmas and inspired several aspects of Christmas, such as family gatherings, seasonal food and drink, dancing, games and a festive generosity of spirit.

“Hedgerow prides itself on telling great stories. We have been bringing people together to share in the power of an ensemble troupe of actors performing for an engaged audience since 1923.  ‘A Christmas Carol is who ‘we strive to be all year round,” Reed said.

The first performance is Friday, Nov. 24, at 7:30 p.m. There will be Wednesday matinees on December 13 and 20, at 2 p.m., as well as special performances Monday, Dec. 18, Tuesday, Dec.  19, and Wednesday Dec. 20 at 7:30 p.m. The final performances is Dec. 24.

Adult ticket prices are $35, with a $3 discount for seniors. Tickets for those ages 30 and under, as well as for students, are $20. For groups of 10 or more, tickets are $18. Prices include all fees and are subject to change. For reservations or more info, call 610-565-4211 or visit www.HedgerowTheatre.org. Hedgerow Theatre is located at 64 Rose Valley Road in Rose Valley (near Media).

The Media Theatre presents ‘Jack Frost Saves Christmas’ 

The Media Theatre’s children’s show for the season, “Jack Frost Saves Christmas,”  performs Saturdays at 11am and Sundays at noon, Nov. 26 through Dec. 31, 2017.  

The Media Theatre’s children’s show for the season, “Jack Frost Saves Christmas,” is the ideal theatrical experience for the young and young at heart.  The colorful show performs Saturdays at 11am and Sundays at noon, Nov. 26 through Dec. 31, 2017.

This one-hour upbeat and heartfelt show for youth of all ages is all about a boy who can’t seem to do anything right because everything he touches turns to ice. Soon, however, friendship and the art of giving get everyone in on the act for a wonderful holiday.  The popular show returns to The Media for the third time, and includes plenty of interactive moments, including a special on-stage dance for all who are in the audience.

The cast features Austy Hicks

Roger Ricker directs the show and reprises his role as Mr. Holly, the town’s Elton John-esque eccentric theatre director, with local actor Henry O’ Neill as Santa Claus.  Music Direction is by Justin Adams, with costumes by Carol Sorensen.

The show plays Saturdays at 11am and Sundays at noon from November 26 through December 31. To purchase tickets, call 610-891-0100 or visit mediatheatre.org. Prices are $12 for children and $15 for adults.

The Media Theatre is at 104 East State Street, Media, PA.

Quintessence Theatre Groups Brings Two-Piano Version of Classic Musical “My Fair Lady” to Life

Quintessence Theatre Group continues its season with a classic musical and a holiday treat for the entire family. This holiday season they are presenting the two-piano version of My Fair Lady in Mt. Airy. With music by Frederick Loewe and lyrics and book by Alan Jay Lerner, this musical masterpiece will run November 15-December 17. Opening night is Saturday, November 18 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets cost $18-$40. Tickets are available online at www.quintessencetheatre.org or at the Box Office at time of performance. Quintessence performs at The Sedgwick Theater located at 7137 Germantown Avenue in Mt. Airy.

In My Fair Lady, Henry Higgins, a celebrated professor of phonetics, makes a bet that he can pass off a lower-class flower girl from Covent Garden as a duchess at the Ambassador’s Ball. By dressing her in expensive clothing, improving her manners, and teaching her how to speak correctly, Higgins transforms Eliza Doolittle into a lady. Following the Greek myth of Pygmalion, Higgins becomes enamored with his creation, now the most eligible lady in London. Adapted from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, with songs by Lerner and Loewe, My Fair Lady is known as “the perfect musical.” My Fair Lady’s theme of a woman overcoming enormous odds to gain her independence despite the machinations of a troubled genius is as applicable today as it was in 1912 when the play takes place.
Leading the cast are Quintessence regulars Leigha Kato as Eliza Doolittle and Gregory Isaac as Henry Higgins. The rest of the cast includes: Lee Cortopassi as Freddy Eynsford-Hill, Doug Hara as Pickering, Bradley Mott as Doolittle/Karpathy/Ascot Lord, and Marcia Saunders as Mrs. Pierce/Mrs. Higgins. The ensemble includes: Kristin Devine, Rakeem Lawrence, and Ebony Pullman.
This is a dream role for Leigha Kato. “I am beyond excited to take on this role! This was one of the first musicals I was ever exposed to as a kid. So, this show is super nostalgic for me. Young Leigha LOVED to play dress up as Eliza. I would frolic around the back yard with my flower basket singing ‘Wouldn’t it be Lovely” and I would often act out the “I Could Have Danced All Night” scene in the privacy of my bedroom. Man, oh man, do Eliza and I go back. To me, this musical is perfect, and I can’t wait to do it for real this time,” said Kato.
Quintessence Artistic Director Alexander Burns directs this production. Christopher Ertlet is the Music Director. Doug Greene is the Set Designer. David Sexton is the Lighting Designer. Christina Bullard is the Costume Designer. Kaki Burns is the Choreographer. Marla Burkholder is the Dialect Coach. Lisa Sullivan is the Production Stage Manager.

Burns said, “Quintessence is celebrated for distilling classic plays down to the explosive elements of the story, the actor and the text. Loving any excuse to sing or dance on stage, Quintessence is excited to present an intimate and passionate exploration of one of the greatest musicals ever written. During this crucial moment of self-reflection on the responsibilities of powerful men in their treatment of and assistance in the empowerment of women, it is a thrilling opportunity to return to Lerner and Loewe’s romantic musical adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s timeless comedy of manners. Through a modern lens, this rags-to-riches story of a Covent Garden flower girl turned princess, will challenge us to ask if abuse is necessary to achieve greatness, who owns the English language, do we still judge an individual’s value on their outward appearance and manners, and does independence mean anything without financial security.”

Resident Theatre Company to present ‘A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play’

The Resident Theatre Company is thrilled to announce the cast and production team for A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play. This play with music brings the essential Dickens fable to life as a 1940’s radio play, wherein six actors perform over two-dozen roles. The show makes its West Chester debut Dec. 15

A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play will be directed by award-winning Broadway veteran and RTC’s Founding Artistic Director Kristin McLaughlin Mitchell, who’s work on Broadway’s Lend Me a Tenor was called “Genius” and “True comic delirium” by the New York Times. RTC’s opening production of Monty Python’s Spamalot, also directed by McLaughlin last spring, earned RTC its first four Barrymore Award nominations.

“Staging A Christmas Carol as a live 1940’s radio play makes this timeless story feel immediate and alive,” says McLaughlin. “Watching actors transform themselves into several different characters, create all the sound effects, and even perform the commercial breaks brings us back to a different era of live entertainment. It’s thrilling.”

Mark Woodard returns to the RTC stage as Ebenezer Scrooge, the frigid moneylender whose humanity is displaced by his greed until he’s met by the Ghosts of Christmas. Mr. Woodard starred in RTC’s production of Spamalot as King Arthur, and has been on stage in and around New York for over 20 years. This will mark Mr. Woodard’s seventh time playing Scrooge.

Joining him is an ensemble of five professional actors.  Alex Kunz, a New York actor last seen as Gabe in RTC’s production of Next to Normal; Michaela Shuchman, a veteran of The Walnut Street Theatre; Hanna Gaffney who played Lady of the Lake in RTC’s Spamalot, and Rajeer Alford coming off a successful run at The Delaware Theatre Company. Together they will perform all the classic Dickens characters in this incredible Christmas story. West Chester native Tom Wang will be appearing on stage as the live Sound Effects engineer, and Corey Everly will music direct.

The Resident Theatre Company has put together an award-winning design team to bring a post-war radio studio to life, including set designer Lance Kniskern; lighting designer Lily Fossner; costume designer Sarah Mitchell; and sound designer Damien Figueras.

Tickets for A Christmas Carol: A Live Radio Play are on sale now at www.rtcwc.org ($25-$53). The show runs December 15 – December 31 at the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester.

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‘Aladdin: A Musical Panto’ is People’s Light holiday show

People’s Light will present Aladdin: A Musical Panto, an adventure story infused with the adrenaline of video gaming. The holiday show follows a young ne’er-do-well and his animal pals as they discover a mysterious lamp, rescue a princess, pilot a magic carpet, and save their village from an evil villain. Written by Samantha Reading and Pete Pryor, with music and lyrics by Michael Ogborn, Aladdin conquers the Leonard C. Haas Stage in Malvern from November 15, 2017-January 7, 2018. People’s Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. For tickets, call 610.644.3500 or visit peopleslight.org.
“We had so much fun letting this genie out of the bottle!” says director Pete Pryor. “This season’s Aladdin is sure to delight with new adventures, fresh faces, and those company stalwarts who have made our own brand of holiday hilarity a family tradition.”

‘Annie’ at Walnut Street Theatre

Walnut Street Theatre continues its landmark 209th season with Broadway’s classic musical, perfect for the entire family, ANNIE. Directed by Glenn Casale, with choreography by Michelle Gaudette, ANNIE begins previews on November 7, opens on November 15  and runs through January 7  on the Walnut’s Mainstage.

Celebrate the holiday season with one of the world’s best-loved musicals. ANNIE is a spunky orphan in 1930s New York City determined to find her parents. In one fun-filled adventure after another, ANNIE foils Miss Hannigan’s evil schemes, befriends President Roosevelt and finds a new home with billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace and a lovable mutt named Sandy. This Tony Award-winning Best Musical for the entire family features some of the greatest musical theatre hits ever written including “It’s the Hard Knock Life,” “Easy Street,” “I Don’t Need Anything But You,” plus the eternal anthem of optimism, “Tomorrow.”

Based on the Harold Gray comic strip Little Orphan Annie, musical ANNIE with book by Thomas Meehan, music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin had its Broadway debut in 1977.  The show was a great success, receiving seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical and Best Original Score; the New York Drama Critics Award for Best Musical; and seven Drama Desk Awards, including Best Musical. The show also received a Grammy Award for Best Cast Show Album. There have since been two Broadway revivals, four National Tours and numerous International productions. In 1982 Columbia Pictures release a film adaptation with a cast including Carol Burnett, Albert Finney, Ann Reinking, Tim Curry and Bernadette Peters. Walt Disney produced a movie version in 1999 with Kathy Bates, Victor Garber, Audra McDonald, Alan Cumming and Kristin Chenoweth. A third film was released in 2014 by Columbia Pictures with a cast including Jamie Foxx, Rose Byrne and Cameron Diaz. The show remains wildly popular and continues to be produced by regional theatres across the country.

The title role of Annie will be shared by Tahlia Ellie of Short Hills, NJ and Jenna Seasholtz of Coopersburg, PA. Ellie was recently seen as an orphan in Annie at the Westchester Broadway Theatre. This production marks her Walnut debut. Seasholtz returns to the Walnut after her performance as a munchkin in last season’s production of Wizard of Oz. Joining Ellie and Seasholtz on their adventure to find a family are Ellie Biron of Philadelphia, PA and Ivy Cordle of Princeton, NJ sharing the role of Molly; Tyrah Skye Odoms of Maple Shade, NJ and Portia Murphy of Newtown, PA sharing the role of Pepper; Samantha Marley of Gladwyne, PA (Wizard of Oz) and Anna Shea Safran (Wizard of Oz) of Doylestown, PA sharing the role of Duffy; Olivia Reitz of Pottstown, PA (Wizard of Oz) and Courtney Chu (South Pacific) of Mount Laurel, NJ sharing the role of July; Sadie Lock of Wenonah, NJ (Wizard of Oz) and Alanna Stein (A Christmas Story) of Voorhees, NJ sharing the role of Tessie ; and Annabelle Corigliano (Wizard of Oz) of Washington Township, NJ and Camiel Warren-Taylor (Wizard of Oz) of Sharon Hill, PA sharing the role of Kate.

Mary Martello will play the infamous matron of the orphanage, Miss Hannigan. Walnut audiences will remember Martello from her performances in shows including Forum, 9 to 5 and Arsenic and Old Lace. Paul Schoeffler returns to the Walnut, having recently performed in Broadway’s revival of Sunset Boulevard. Schoeffler will join the cast as the confident millionaire Oliver Warbucks. His Walnut credits include South Pacific, 9 to 5 and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. His sophisticated secretary, Grace Farrell, will be played by Rebecca Robbins. Robbins moves to the Walnut’s Mainstage after performing as the title character in Souvenir, A Fantasia on the life of Florence Foster Jenkins earlier this season in Walnut’s Independence Studio on 3.

Christopher Sutton and his wife Lyn Philistine will play Rooster Hannigan and Lily.

ANNIE runs at the Walnut November 7 through January 7. Open captioning will be available for the Sunday, December 3, 7pm performance. The Tuesday, December 19 performance will be ASL interpreted and Audio Described. For tickets and information, call 215-574-3550 or 800-982-2787. Tickets are also available online 24/7 by visiting www.WalnutStreetTheatre.org or Ticketmaster.