Story and photos by Susan Mikula Campbell
If you're the type of person whose Christmas spirit doesn't start to glow until the Grinch fibs to Cindy Lou Who, Charlie Brown props up his scraggly tree, Ralphie gets warned about shooting his eye out, or the bell rings on George Bailey's tree, Theatre in the Mist has just the ticket for you.
Let Scrooge and Tiny Tim provide that Christmas tingle in the group's production of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," which continues this weekend at Stella Niagara Theatre, 4421 Lower River Road, Lewiston.
The show opens with a young boy on stage being told to do his homework. He pulls out Dickens' book from his backpack and starts to read aloud. From there, cast members narrate parts of the tale before acting out scenes from the well-known story.
Jerry Mosey of Lewiston takes on the role of Scrooge. His interpretation of the miser is a little less "meanie" and a little more "lonely."
"Playing Scrooge is one of three acting bucket wishes I have had - the other two being Tevye in 'Fiddler...' and Fagan in 'Oliver.' At least I've experienced one of them, and what a great experience!" said Mosey, a familiar face in both Theatre in the Mist and Lewiston Council on the Arts Marble Orchard productions.
Only recently recovered from a severe back injury, Mosey is enjoying his role, even though he's on stage almost the entire show, except for a quick costume change.
"The redemption scene in 'A Christmas Carol' takes me on an emotional roller coaster ride - one I totally experience each night of the show. Though going down on knees is not always an easy feat after having fallen from a truck last August," he said. "But it's worth it."
The show also features other experienced adult actors from Erie County, including Jack Agugliaro of Kenmore, who has been a Theatre in the Mist chairman, director and actor. His appearance as Marley's Ghost startles the audience right along with Scrooge, and he gives a ringing performance with his second role as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
The cast is rounded out by a group of talented young people from Lewiston-Porter, Niagara-Wheatfield and Niagara Falls schools and two North Tonawanda recent grads.
Among them is Niagara-Wheatfield senior Samantha Ploetz who takes on the roles of both the Ghost of Christmas Past and Bob Cratchit's daughter Martha. Her most recent performance was her debut with Theatre in the Mist in "Seussical the Musical," and she is hoping to be a part of this year's production of "Phantom of the Opera" at the high school.
The Lewiston-Porter contingent in the cast includes seventh-grader Caitlyn Stephenson, fourth-grader Lexie Rupple and fifth-grader Nick Rupple.
"A Christmas Carol" is Buffalo resident Joy Ann Wrona's debut as a director with Theatre in the Mist, although she's no stranger to the Stella Niagara stage. The former Lewiston resident's first time on stage was as a youngster at Stella in a production of "Bye Bye Birdie."
She was smiling after last Friday's opening night that brought in a good-sized crowd despite blustery weather.
"Aside from some technical glitches, I thought it went very well," she said.
Wrona has acted in productions of "A Christmas Carol" four times in the past, so she is comfortable with her knowledge of the text and of Dickens.
"A Christmas Carol" is a good show for this time of year, she said. "Everybody is looking for Christmas," she said. "There's something special about getting it from live theater."
Remaining show times are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 7, and Saturday, Dec. 8, along with a 2 p.m. matinee on Sunday, Dec. 9.
Ticket prices are $14 for general admission; $12 for students and seniors age 62 and up; and $6 for children age 12 and under.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.theatreinthemist.org or call toll free 1-877-856-0694.