By Jenny Neyman
For the most part, holidays are celebrated through tradition. But nothing can stay the same forever.
Twinkling lights updated to LED bulbs. Family connections kept up through eCards and video calls. Turkey dinner made with maybe a little trans fat, but no less love.
This month Triumvirate Theatre serves up two helpings of traditional shows with a dash of newness for first-time audiences.
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” will be performed one more weekend, as dinner theater Dec. 19 and 20 and just the show Dec. 18. “A Charlie Brown Christmas” opens this weekend, Dec. 12 and 13, and will be performed again Dec. 26 and 27. Both are staged at Triumvirate North, five miles north of Kenai on the Kenai Spur Highway.
Both were chosen for their nostalgia factor.
“We’ve done ‘A Christmas Carol’ several times, but I’ve always wanted to do it in a bigger way, and our new theater provided the opportunity to do that,” said Joe Rizzo, who directs the play. “So ghosts could appear magically, and we could have more room to build a more impressive set — that type of thing.”
Dickens’ story, of businessman Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation into a more generous person through visitations by his old business partner, Jacob Marley, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, was itself a mix of old and new at the time it was published, in 1843. Not only were Christmas trees and greeting cards new conventions, but the happy ending of Scrooge’s redemption helped restore some festivity and merriment to a season that had been marked by Victorian-era somberness. Yet the point of the tale — encouraging kindness and helping those less fortunate — was a reminder then as it still is now.
“I like the fact that the message, even though it was written over 150 years ago, is something that we still have around us today,” Rizzo said. “When Scrooge says, ‘Are there no prisons, and union workhouses,’ where people can go who are poor and destitute? We still hear those same types of things today — aren’t there food stamps, don’t my taxes go to pay for housing, why should I give to charity at this point? So I think the message is still very relevant, which is that everyone is part of the human race and we all have to help each other out.”
And yet, the play transforms a bit every time it’s performed.
“I think there’s always a different interpretation every time I’ve done this play. Even if I use the same script, actors bring a different interpretation to it,” he said.