SEQUIM — After a year off, Sequim High students bring back the All-School Play with a Christmas classic.
For two weekends they’ll stage Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” set for tonight and Saturday and Dec. 14-15 at the school’s auditorium at 533 N. Sequim Ave.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. They will be sold only at the door. Only cash will be accepted.
Proceeds will benefit the SHS Operetta Club for future productions and performing arts opportunities for Sequim students.
Leading the students is director Ashley Kramer, a new English and language arts teacher at Greywolf Elementary School.
After being hired to direct in mid-October, Kramer chose the play for the December performances.
“I love it for its universal theme,” she said. “It’s something everyone can get behind.”
For those unfamiliar with Ebenezer Scrooge’s tale, “A Christmas Carol” follows the miser as he’s visited by ghosts who help remind him of what it means to be a good person, leading him to embrace the spirit of Christmas.
“It’s a classic,” Kramer said. “People have seen it over and over again.”
Damon Little, who plays Scrooge, said he never thought he’d be able to play Scrooge at his age.
“It’s such a cool opportunity; how often does a 17-year-old get to play Scrooge?” he said.
“That’s something you’re only going to find in a high school theater.”
Little, who auditioned specifically for the role, said he’s been taking inspiration from various actors online while experimenting with new techniques to see what works best for him.
“For me, no matter how far removed it is from myself, I try to find something I can relate to with the character,” he said.
“With Scrooge, I really try to find some weird part of myself that I can relate to the emotions and heighten it for Scrooge.”
A ghost story
Kramer said Dickens acknowledges the strangeness of fusing a ghost story with a holiday play in his book.
“It is a ghost story, but it’s done with the purpose of communicating the urgency of using our time well and not wasting it,” she said. “It’s more of a morality play than a Christmas play.”
For Sequim’s production, Kramer adapted the script from Dickens’ novel so that five student actors play as narrators.
Actors are excited about the revelations of the Ghost of Christmas Past, Ghost of Christmas Present and Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
Maggie van Dyken, who plays Jacob Marley, said they’ve held back from revealing the ghosts because they want it to be a surprise.
“The past, present and future all have completely different looks,” she said.
For her version of Marley, she is going to look “more dead and wrinkly” come show time. Taking on Scrooge’s dead business partner is who she wanted to be, too.
“In theater, gender-swapping is not an uncommon thing,” van Dyken said. “He just has really heavy accessories.”
One addition Kramer made for the play includes Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Match Girl played by Sofia Baruffi, who sings a song in Italian. Kramer said it depicts the urgency of compassion and that we cannot put off kindness.
With a quick turnaround for the play, Kramer enlisted students to take charge of much of the behind-the-scenes production.
They’re creating costumes, choreographing the dancing, operating the sound board and lights, and creating and designing the programs while the Operetta Club handles administrative tasks.
The high school does not have a drama class, but Kramer said interest is high.
“So many students are interested [in theater] and there’s such a rich history of doing plays here,” she said.
Kramer said students simply love being in plays and missed doing the All-School Play.
“They would have been in any play,” she said. “There’s a real hunger to do it.”
As president of the Operetta Club, van Dyken said it’s gratifying to see the play come back.
“I love this play because it allows all the students of the school to participate and not just the students who can dance or sing in the operetta,” she said.
“It opens it up to all kinds of actors. You don’t have to be good or bad. It gives you the opportunity to do what you love.”
Little said this show allows students to show off their “acting chops.”
“I think it’s really cool for the entire population of Sequim to see the talent that is at the high school,” he said.
“I think it’s really eye-opening to see a production like this and see the young people in our community who are so talented.”
That includes the actors and stage crew and “all of the creative forces coming together,” Little said.
He and van Dyken said they appreciate Kramer stepping up to make the play happen.
“She’s an amazing leader and came in at a time where we were trying to find someone,” Little said. “She’s blowing all of our expectations away in the job she’s done with directing this show and helping us with characterization in such a short amount of time.”
Van Dyken added, “She’s made it all work somehow.”
For more information on the upcoming production of “A Christmas Carol,” call Sequim High School at 360-582-3600.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at [email protected]