Theatre Three, a local non-profit community theater in Port Jefferson, hosted its 35th annual showing of “A Christmas Carol,” on Saturday, Nov. 17.
“A Christmas Carol” is a holiday tradition for the theater — the show, considered by locals as a Port Jefferson tradition, sells the most tickets and helps keep the theater going financially.
The cast includes adults and two sets of young actors. The child actors are put into two groups, the “Holly” and “Ivy” cast, some in the first act of the show and the others in the second playing the same character, so that the young actors don’t miss too much school but are still active participants in the 56 performances.
The theater’s adaptation of the show is based on the Charles Dickens 1843 novella “A Christmas Carol” set in Victorian London. The protagonist, Ebenezer Scrooge, is a greedy elderly man who is visited by his former and deceased business associate Jacob Marley and the three spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come. After the nightmare, Scrooge wakes up on Christmas as a kind-spirited person.
Since the flash flood in late September that damaged several businesses in Port Jefferson, half of the 135 costumes for the show were destroyed and replaced, including the entire men’s costume section and several petticoats and dresses. The damage to the theater cost $125,000.
“This year all the costumes are different and all the props are new because we lost everything to do with ‘A Christmas Carol’ in the flood. We have totally rebuilt ‘A Christmas Carol,’” Marci Bino, actress and educational touring theater coordinator at Theatre Three, said. “It will be a curiosity with the traditional people. They’re going to see a whole new show.”
Some of the costumes and accessories were purchased at a period costume store, while others were designed by Randall Parsons, who is also the production designer, and hand-sewn by costume designers Terissa Matteson and Toni St. John. The costumes are accurate to the time period, which spans about a 60-year period, from the Regency to the Victorian era. To make up for lost time and the destroyed clothing, Matteson and St. John spent 50-70 hours a week sewing and designing.
“We’re still not over it,” St. John said.
Families on Long Island grow up with “A Christmas Carol,” sending their children and grandchildren to see the same show, coming back to see the new elements that are added each year.
Many of the actors come back year after year auditioning for the same spots as well because it has become a tradition for them.
Artistic Director Jeffrey Sanzel’s adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” doesn’t change Dickens’ original story but tinkers with aspects of presentation and how the characters are delivered. Since 1993, Sanzel has played the part of Scrooge, extensively studying the part. Douglas Quattrock, artistic associate, actor and director of development at Theatre Three, has played Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s clerk, for 15 years and has seen how the audience has grown with the cast.
“I have people that come here and get engaged on our stage. When they come and do the photo they give Mr. Scrooge the ring to hide,” Quattrock said. “I have a collection of photos from over the years. We have watched their children grow up.”
“A Christmas Carol” will be running until Dec. 29.