Dorset Players make merry with 'A Christmas Carol'

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DORSET — The Dorset Players continue their annual holiday tradition of putting on some of the most wholesome family entertainment in the region with their ongoing production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," in a version dramatized by Ray DeMattis and William John Aupperlee.

The traditional Christmas show, directed by Don Petersen and produced by Cheryl Gushee, will run its final weekend Dec. 13-15. Choreography is by Kelly Gaiotti with musical direction by Lori Bond.

The Players, counting the current show, have had five productions of 'A Christmas Carol,' in 1975, 1992, 2002, 2010, and this year's edition. Dorset attorney Kevin O'Toole, in 1992 and 2002, played Bob Cratchit and Joe the Pawnbroker. In 2010, he directed a traditional Victorian, full set version. This year, he finally realized his dream to play Scrooge, and delighted the audience at his finest hour. Bravo, sir!

The popular story boasts a cast of 24, and follows parsimonious Scrooge as he floats with ghostly guides through Christmas past, present and future to discover the true meaning of the holidays. The DeMattis-Aupperlee adaptation was first performed at the St. Bart's Playhouse in New York City.

Excellent performances, both extensive and cameo, were turned in by the entire cast, with director Petersen and producer Gushee performing major miracles to culminate with this stage version, going into its last weekend.

Hats off, then, to this strong cohort of Thespians young and old: Evan Cassan (Tiny Tim), Josh Bond (Bob Cratchit), Kristin Kimball (Mrs. Cratchit), and Skip Dickinson (Jacob Marley), Molly Harper (Belle), Suzi Dorgeloh (Charity Woman), Annabel Grattan (Abigail Crachit), Scout McGuire (Elizabeth Crachit), Evelyn Bond (Martha Crachit), Regan Casey (Peter Crachit), Ryder Scott (Dick), and Owen Cassan (Boy Ebenezer)

It's a pretty big cast, and all excelled: Penelope Kimball (Bella Crachit), Zachary Barnett (Young Adult Ebenezer), Paul Bremel (Fezziwig), Dawn Goetz (Mrs. Fezziwig), Joe Mozer (Fred), Kristen Bowen (Fred's wife), Caren McVicker (Ghost of Christmas Past), Jon Mathewson (Ghost of Christmas Present), Luca Bowen (Turkey Boy), Ryan Gaiotti (Want), and Emily Porter (Ignorance).

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If you think you're seeing a lot of the same last names, you are correct: parents and their kids joined forces in this heartwarming rendition of Dickens' classic.

The play doesn't drag, running a crisp 70 minutes with no intermission, making it the perfect holiday show to take the entire family to see.

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Drew Hill and Don Petersen's set was surreal, and utilitarian all at once, making rapid changes happen from scene to scene and leave more to the imagination, which fits this story very well.

Angie Merwin has spoiled Dorset Players audiences with her sublime lighting designs, and further technical crew members enriched the story's backdrop. Suzi Dorgeloh and Cherie Thompson's costumes were excellent statements of the characters, and the show was capably stage managed by Patty Greene-Pawelczyk, with help from Trish Weisbrot.

Musical direction by Lorri Bond was smoothly integrated into the play and aided mood, tone and scene transition.

Finally, Kelly Gaiotti's choreography once again demonstrated standards of a real pro. To get all those amateurs - children included - executing the Fezziwig scene dance sequence after fragmented and compressed rehearsals is nothing short of miraculous. Add to that the fact that Gaiotti had to create the dances from scratch with a hand from Bond's layout of the music is the kind of ingenuity and know-how expected from big time productions.

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The Dorset Players'

annual Christmas production is all about having fun and getting the family out and in the seats - with very affordable ticket prices. In this way, year after year, it becomes a must-see holiday staple for southern Vermont, north Berkshire County in Mass., and neighboring New York State, just across the border.

The Players know how to entertain, and it's been said while many on the regional arts and culture scene can keep Christmas just as well, nobody makes merry better than this troupe.

So go make merry with them!

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," adapted by Ryan DeMattis and William John Aupperlee, directed by Don Petersen, and produced by Cheryl Gushee will run at the Dorset Players, on Cheney Road., Dorset, from Dec. 13-15. Tickets and info: 802-867-5777 or

Telly Halkias is a member of the American Theatre Critics Assn. (ATCA). Email: Twitter: @TellyHalkias.


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