From The Broadsheet Daily, December 9, 2010
An Updated ‘Christmas Carol’ Sets the Pace for Holiday Giving
Ebenezer Scrooge would be furious if he knew what the cast of the newly reimagined production of A Christmas Carol are up to: Not only did they assist in the community tree lighting at the South Street Seaport on November 26 (“Bah!”), and not only are they staging his whole sordid story at Pace University’s Schimmel Center for the Arts on December 8 through 12 (“Humbug!”), but — and here’s the part that would really make him want to hide Tiny Tim’s crutches — they are planning to raise money for charity after each performance.
The cast (including two BPC residents: Grace Diana Kirwin, in second grade at P.S. 89, and her sister Brooke Kelly Kirwin, in fifth) will mingle with the audience and collect contributions for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. The production, mounted by Pace’s Department of Performing Arts, features original music, newly choreographed dance numbers, larger-than-life puppets, and a generous dose of Christmas spirit. One more thing about the show that Scrooge would hate: Tickets are affordably priced, at $12 for adults and $8 for students, seniors, and kids.
The curtain goes up Wednesday through Friday at 8:00 pm, on Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00 pm, and on Sunday at 1:00 and 7:00 pm. Tickets are available at the box office (One Spruce Street) before each performance, and can be reserved by e-mailing Theater@Pace.edu or calling 212-346-1954.
An adaptation by Grant Kretchik of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” with puppets, dance and music is the talk of the town.
The production appeared TWICE during the week of December 8 in The New York Times – The Community Affairs Calendar and Seasonal Revels (Arts). It also got a “double play” on BroadwayWorld.com – “Pace University & The Dept of Performing Arts Presents A CHRISTMAS CAROL” and “Pace University Confronts the AIDS Crisis With BC/EFA.”
Time Out New York featured the actors/carolers/dancers participation in the South Street Seaport Tree Lighting event, as well as recommended the play in their separate Time Out New York KIDS edition. TheaterMania came out with the most comprehensive play information, naming every person in the cast/crew AND their role … along with featuring the show entirely in the lead paragraph of the article, “Kids Spotlight: Carol Channeling,” which was also picked up by USA Today among others.
Single mentions (many with photos) included the NY Daily News, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, New York Social Diary, WNBC-TV, NY1, NYC.com, Shecky’s NYC Nightlife, The Broadsheet Daily, Downtown Alliance, DGuides, Tribeca Tribune, NYTheatre.com, Mommy Poppins, PARENTGUIDE News, A Child Grows in Brooklyn and PeaTot.
The Seaport Inn promoted Pace’s “A Christmas Carol” on their website, noting to tourists that the Schimmel Theater was ” Walking distance from our front door.”
Student actors were featured in their hometown newspapers: Niko Papastefanou (Scrooge) from Montgomery, NY near the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains was profiled in the Times-Herald Record; Chris Barba (Fred, Scrooge’s nephew) who hails from a seacoast town in Plymouth County, MA was interviewed by the Scituate Mariner; Chris Fayne (Bob Cratchit) from Egg Head Township in NJ was named a “person of the week” by Shore News Today; and Daniel Rings (Gentleman, Clerk and Caroler) was applauded by Michigan’s Midland Daily News in the article, “Midland Actor Takes Stage in New York.” The Times-Herald Record and Midland Daily News also ran the cast photo.
Grant Kretchik, who directed the adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” spoke about the production in interviews with the New York Observer’s supplement, The Educated Observer, as well as his own Hawley, PA, hometown newspaper, The News Eagle.
Additionally buzz was provided by the South Street Seaport’s full page ad promoting the message “Spend Your Holidays at the Seaport” and highlighting “Pace University’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ appearance at the Tree Lighting Spectacular on November 26. The ad appeared on the back page of AM New York, The Downtown Express and other local newspapers.
Chris Barba (pictured in top hat), a 2009 Scituate High School graduate, acted throughout high school and had other main roles before, but said he has never been a part of a production as big as this one. Barba is starring this week in Pace University’s “A Christmas Carol” as Fred, Scrooge’s optimistic nephew.
Barba explained that Fred continually tries to get Scrooge to see things in a better light then he is able to. And he said that no matter how much Scrooge rejects him, Fred keeps going back to form a relationship with Scrooge.
“Everyone knows the story of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and when I got the role I assumed I knew, but I realized that you can never really know too much,” said Barba. “You have to take to it seriously and get it right and do research and planning and be open to discovery as with any other role that you knew nothing about.”
“I was really heavily involved in acting program at Scituate High School,” Chris Barba said. “I was definitely a drama geek and was always reading plays and working hard all through high school.”
But Barba wasn’t so sure he wanted to pursue acting as a career until Maura Tighe, the drama director his freshman and sophomore year of high school, convinced him otherwise.
Barba said Tighe taught him about building a character.
“You think that performing is getting out on stage and saying lines in the most entertaining way possible, but I started to learn that when you create a character, you create a whole person, someone who may be similar to someone you know,” he said. “It’s something I learned more detail about in college, but she was the first person who planted that seed in my mind.”