Little Current United Church Players perform follow-up to Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’

The Little Current United Church Players take a bow following their dramatic reading of ‘Scrooge and Cratchit.’ photo by Warren Schlote

LITTLE CURRENT—The Charles Dickens’ classic ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a robust story in its own right, but questions remain as to what has happened since the events of the original tale. The Little Current United Church (LCUC) Players have approached the untold story by channeling the ghost of Christmas future with their dramatic reading of ‘Scrooge and Cratchit.’

“Not everybody would think about what happened to Ebenezer after the end of ‘A Christmas Carol.’ This takes place seven years after the original story, and it bookends the original story, I think, very well,” says LCUC Pastor Paul Allard, who has assumed the role of Mr. Scrooge in this production.

The plot of ‘A Christmas Carol’ ends with the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation into a charitable and benevolent figure, willing to give away his hard-fought time and money to compassionate causes and also providing support to his work associate Bob Cratchit. ‘Scrooge and Cratchit’ offers a possible look at how life for the two may have changed since Mr. Scrooge’s transformation. 

“I originally found this story written by Matt McHugh around four years ago,” says Pastor Allard. “I showed it to my congregation and the Anglican congregation in Cochrane, where I was working at the time. One of the Anglican members’ sons was a playwright and he turned it into a dramatic reading.”

This is the second year that the LCUC has put on the production. It also ran for two years in Cochrane before Pastor Allard came to Little Current.

Northeast Town Mayor Al MacNevin tells the audience at the beginning of the production that last year had been his first time ever experiencing a dramatic reading.

“I’m sure the sequel will be very entertaining as well as being for a good cause; all donations are going to the Manitoulin Food Bank,” he says.

Narrator Scott Mosher stands on stage as a bell tolls to set the scene; Mr. Mosher explains the Scrooge-Cratchit firm is close to bankruptcy after Mr. Scrooge’s change of heart.

That first bell toll hits the audience with more weight than it might have otherwise. Mayor MacNevin had mentioned in his opening remarks that the church community recently lost Elaine Moore, an active community member who had helped with numerous initiatives such as this production. At last year’s inaugural performance, she had been in charge of operating the sound effects. This year’s production is dedicated to her memory.

“We really loved Elaine’s enthusiasm and energy,” Pastor Allard tells The Expositor. “She passed away in October and left a hole in our heart. We felt we had to do (‘Scrooge and Cratchit’) again in tribute to her; it was definitely a labour of love this year.”

Pastor Allard says the actors had their parts down well and that this year they had incorporated a number of new sound effects to “try to bring the audience closer to the story.” He adds that for next year, they will try to fine-tune the sounds and ensure they are in strategic locations, and possibly project scenes onto the overhead screen to give the audience a more immersive experience.

The screen is already in use in the production’s current format. The story is broken up into nine scenes and features a brief caroling break in between each one. Lyrics to the Christmas classics are projected to help the whole audience participate. In addition to providing some of the voices, Barbara Cranston had taken on the role of pianist to accompany the singers.

During the first half of the show, the featured songs are ‘Good King Wenceslas,’ ‘As With Gladness, Men of Old,’ ‘Coventry Carol,’ ‘Carol of the Bells’ and a verse from the ‘Wassail Song.’

After scene five, the audience members are allowed to stretch their legs and enjoy some fresh baking in the church hall. The organizers had also prepared a specially-made concoction known as “Smoking Bishop Punch,” a family-friendly holiday drink.

In the remaining four acts, the caroling songs are ‘We Three Kings,’ ‘Silent Night,’ ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen’ and ‘Once in Royal David’s City.’ Mr. Mosher concludes the evening’s performance with the final words of the script: “Merry Christmas and God bless us, everyone.”

The LCUC Players who have participated in this year’s show are Mr. Mosher, Pastor Allard, Helen Eade, Karen Allard, Brenda Hallett, Ivan Edwards, Ken Lippold, Laurie Cook, Ms. Cranston and Judith Mosher. Gail Cronin is in charge of the sound effects and Betty Edwards had worked on promotion and the poster, alongside Lori Edwards.