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Celebrating a Christmas classic’s return

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Celebrating a Christmas classic’s return (photo courtesy Ten Bucks Theatre Company/Sarah Littlefield)

BANGOR – A beloved holiday classic returned to the Bangor stage recently.

Ten Bucks Theatre Company presented a staged reading of the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” at the Bangor Arts Exchange December 7-9.

There’s no need for synopsis here; everyone is familiar with the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the spirits that helped turn him from a hard-hearted miser into a man with goodwill toward all his fellow man. It’s one of the most beloved Christmas stories in the literary canon.

As a rule, I don’t review performances such as this one, shows that are already fully in the rearview mirror before we go to print. But in this particular case, I'm making an exception. The reason?

Ken Stack.

For many years, Ken Stack’s performance as Ebenezer Scrooge was a holiday tradition in this town. Penobscot Theatre Company annually mounted a production of “A Christmas Carol,” and there, at the center of it all, was Stack, bringing Scrooge to vivid, snarling life.

And while there are arguments to be made that with the myriad holiday-themed material out there, there’s no need to continue trotting out the same show year after year, there’s also something to be said for the value of tradition. There’s an entire generation of Bangor-area folks who have the shared experience of seeing Ken Stack’s Scrooge. That connection is important. It matters.

For Ten Bucks to bring that tradition back, albeit in a slightly different form, is an utter delight.

It was a lovely evening, to be sure – director Andrea Littlefield and company brought the stage to life with costumes, a few well-chosen set pieces and some live sound effects. The ensemble that joined Stack onstage – Kim Meyerdierks, Tracy Green, Deanna Rice, Nathan Roach, Jesse Call, Joshua Lorenzo, Jennifer Snow, Matt Rice, Kathryn Ravescraft, Abbie Green and Foley artist Greg Littlefield – did a fine job of capturing the spirit of the story and of the season.

But this story is about Ebenezer Scrooge, a character that Stack has played often enough that the role has seeped into his DNA. There’s an ease to his every enunciation, a smoothness to every subtle motion. Even his grunts and groans contain multitudes.

I’ve seen Ken Stack’s Scrooge innumerable times over the course of my time here, but this was a brand-new view for me – the view from the seats.

You see, I too was a part of many of those PTC productions of “A Christmas Carol” in years past. In fact, it was one such production that served as my initial introduction to working the company, a relationship that has continued off and on for the two decades since.

Watching this particular production unfold, I realized just how deeply the show had sunk into my own subconscious. See, I have played a lot of the roles in this play. And I mean A LOT. I have spoken every single line of narration that you could imagine at various points. I have been Bob Cratchit and Nephew Fred. Haunts and hangers-on – I’ve been them all. Hell, I was even George Harrison once (don’t ask).

And even the words I never spoke, I heard a thousand times. Even now, nearly a decade since I last performed in it, I still knew the words. Not the story, mind you – the words. Line after line rang bells in my head that had been unrung for years. It was a soft, sweet nostalgia trip.

Ten Bucks Theatre Company’s staged reading of “A Christmas Carol” marked the first time I had ever seen Stack’s Scrooge from the audience, but it was far from the first time I had enjoyed his performance. It was a welcome journey down a snow-flecked memory lane.

Last modified on Friday, 14 December 2018 10:59

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