Featuring a cast and crew of 50, Chantilly High presents Charles Dickens' classic story, "A Christmas Carol," in the school auditorium.
Showtimes are Thursday-Friday, Dec. 20-21, at 7 p.m. each night. Tickets are $7 at the door or $8 via www.chantillyhsdrama.com.
"It's a strong cast and I'm really happy with the actors," said Director Ed Monk. "It's a fairly short play, about an hour, and we try to remain true to the spirit of the book and get through to the core message."
He said the show also contains lots of terrific music, sound, lighting and special effects. And as always, said Monk, "It's a nice way to start the holiday season."
Portraying Ebenezer Scrooge is senior Eddie Monk, who worked his way up to this role. As a freshman in this play, he was a dead body. He describes Scrooge as "a nasty, old man who does not trust anyone or anything but his own money. He broke up with his girlfriend, his father was abusive and his sister died."
Nonetheless, Eddie Monk loves playing him. "He's a diverse and serious character and very different from who I actually am," he explained. "But it's tough because he changes throughout the play, from extremely bitter to filled with joy, and you have to slowly transition it."
He especially likes the way Scrooge talks. "He's very quick, smart and sarcastic and, if he wants to state the obvious, he will," said Eddie. "He's condescending and thinks he's better than everyone because he has more money. He's a businessman and concise, as if to say, 'I don't have time to deal with you.'"
As for the overall play, he said, "I think the audience will love it. It's always a great show for the holidays, and Dickens is a fantastic writer when it comes to characters. They have deep, emotional bonds. And the script is extremely close to the original book."
Eddie said the set will also attract interest: "It will be angled down toward the audience to position people on stage to give or take away power from them. It's stylistic and much of it is left up to the audience's imagination."
Sophomore Chris Albrigo plays young Scrooge in his late teens. "In the beginning, he's relatively nice and happy," said Albrigo. He has a fiance, Belle, but then he stops loving everyone. He becomes a greedy, malicious person who doesn't care about people because they don't profit him."
It's a fun role to play, said Albrigo, however difficult because he's used to being able to do big movements to show emotion. But at this age, Scrooge isn't angry; he's cold and unfeeling, so it's challenging for Albrigo to show he no longer cares about Belle.
He likes getting to "play a bad guy for the first time" and acting from the "fantastic script written by Mr. Monk. The language is so good and the sentences really flow."
Albrigo said, sometimes, an actor had to show his character's emotions in just a few lines, but it worked out. And although the script's about 50 pages long, senior Chris Liotta said, "You don't miss any of the context of the book."
Liotta portrays Poole, who collects charitable donations for the poor. "He's a really good-natured and good-hearted guy — the kind you'd want to hang out with. It's fun because, in the past, I've either played a crazy character or angry, in children's shows."
He said the audience will enjoy the play because "everyone is putting all they have into it. And when you have a good script and hard workers, it creates an awesome environment."
Senior Clare Bonner is the narrator; she's in the beginning and end of the play and also introduces scenes. "There's lots to memorize — big paragraphs and monologues," she said. "I've played funny and goofy characters, so this is my first serious, toned-down role, and it's a really good change."
In many instances, she said, "I almost have to feel the emotions the other characters are feeling so I can show that to the audience, and not just move the story along. And a lot of my lines are straight from the book — Dickens' words that people have already heard, so I have to be perfect."
Still, Bonner said she's happy that she gets to open and close the play and tie everything together. And since Scrooge is played like a real person, she said he won't come off as a caricature and the audience will be better able to relate to him.
Junior Mike Desrosiers plays Bob Cratchit. "He supports his family and has to put on a big act for them, as if he's happy, once he gets home from work," said Desrosiers. "But he hasn't accepted the reality about how ill his son, Tiny Tim, is."
Desrosiers said it's a fun part because Cratchit's conflicting emotions give his character "a lot of depth." And because the play's so short, he believes that "more is said during the silence than the words."
He's excited because this is his first, mainstage production, and he says the audience "will come in ready to be made happy by this play that they love."
Portraying Cratchit's wife is senior Christina Day. "Since our family's going through a hard time, I'm the glue holding it together," she explained. "We're poor and our son, Tiny Tim, is dying. And Bob is either sad all the time or trying to make jokes, so I have to be serious."
Day's having fun, though, because "you meet people in drama and get to be close to them. I was an ensemble member in my freshman year, and it's cool to come back to it as a senior."
She said it's a bit tough explaining each character in a few lines — "For example, Bob says three words and I have to start crying" — but that makes the actors try harder to understand what makes their characters tick.
Day is also pleased that Mrs. Cratchit is so strong and the only character in the play who'll stand up to Scrooge. As for the play, she said, "It's timeless, and what better show to see in the holidays?"
Sophomore Tom Feeley plays her son Peter, 8. He's a happy child and doesn't know what to make of what's happening within his family. "It's fun because I haven't gotten a main part before, except in children's shows," said Feeley.
He said the range of emotions he has to portray between happy and sad can be hard, but he likes being in this play because "everyone knows it, so I can show a different part to my character." And he said it'll be moving to the audience "how we can lift up our spirits, even though we're poor."
Playing his sister, Martha, 13, is junior Stephanie Furgerson. "She's working and just came home for Christmas," said Furgerson. "She's happy to be around her family that she loves and is pretty upbeat."
Toughest for Furgerson is "picturing your little brother dying and your parents fighting on Christmas." But she likes her role because it's a serious one, after several comedic ones, so she enjoys the challenge.
Scrooge's nephew Fred is played by junior Michael Poandl, and senior Nan Haugan portrays his wife Amelia. "Scrooge has forgotten about love and, when I married Amelia, she was poor and had no dowry, but we loved each other," said Poandl. In contrast, said Haugan: "Scrooge left his love behind him because she didn't have money."
She describes Amelia as generous and says she and Fred are "both into the spirit of Christmas and enjoying their friends and family." Added Poandl: "We don't really care about money, which is why, in the beginning, Scrooge kind of hates me. And his sister, my mother Fan, died in childbirth bearing me. But Fred's bright, cares about people and tries to focus on love and the Christmas spirit."
Haugan says Amelia and Fred are Scrooge's opposites and reach out to him even after he rejects them. "I love being the foil to his darkness," said Poandl. "We represent another way of living and, at the end, Scrooge comes full circle and accepts us as part of his family."
Haugan likes seeing how the different characters affect how he changes, and Poandl said Fred and Amelia remind Scrooge of when he was young and "make him want to reclaim what he lost." Haugan said all the actors are "in touch with their characters so that makes it really believable. And with the holidays being so materialistic, it shows that people should be thankful for family and friends."
Sarah Phelan plays Tiny Tim, and Taylor Wheaton and Brieann Anderson portray the ghosts of Christmas past and present, respectively. Junior Chuck Birttle is the ghost of Christmas future. "I wear a suit and a hood and will be all in black," he said. "I'm creepy and scary and have a dark appeal. I'm trying to scare Scrooge into going in the right direction."
Birttle likes playing such a different character and thinks it's cool because he gets to look like a grim reaper and wear a suit, at the same time. But he has to remember to move slowly "so I'm scary-looking." Day said the special effects also play a big role in the show: "There'll be shadows, light and fog to intensify the emotions."