"We have a wonderful cast of young adults: Sarah Demelow as Winnie-the-Pooh, Casey Bunce as Christopher Robin, Sydney Willard as Rabbit, Katy McGloughlin as Piglet, Jessica Pearson as both Eeyore and Tigger, and Sarah Beth Rapson as Owl and Kanga," said Rapson.
Rapson has been directing shows since high school. As the drama director at the Dogwood Church in Tyrone, she writes sketches for the drama team based on sermon topics as well as scripts for videos, directing and acting as well.
"But this is the very first time I've ever directed a musical. Thankfully it's a one-act! It's been nice to have a new challenge," she said.
Christopher Robin tells a story about Eeyore, the old gray donkey who lives by himself in the thistle corner of Hundred-Acre Wood. He is miserable because he has lost his tail, and everyone, including Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet, is trying to help their friend.
"We are not going with the Disney version of the production," said Rapson. "We've gone back to the essence of A.A. Milne's classic Christmas story, so the look of the show is going to be more along the lines of the classic pictures in the Milne books, a more rustic look than the shiny, bedazzled Disney styling. It's going to be really sweet. At the core of it, our inspiration is Christopher Robin's imagination. He's playing with his stuffed animals in the woods and imagining stories where they come to life. It's really a cute show."
Bonnie Krider is the musical director and Kelly Callen is stage manager. "It's a great team, and the show has been a lot of fun to do," said Rapson.
For several years now, Jeff Allen has made it his business to provide Christmas entertainment for adults with a cynical turn of mind. This year he is directing "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge," by Christopher Durang, a musical parody of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol." There are some comically darker moments that some younger Yule tiders may find mature, but mom and dad will love this in-your-face romp through a world that even Dickens himself couldn't imagine. Chloe Beckman (SF Weekly Arts) describes the play as a "gleeful demolition job on the very notion of the enduring masterpiece." Allen, a masterful comedian himself who directed "The Eight: Reindeer Monologues" last year, is in his element with this raucous satire.
"There are two Mrs. Bob Cratchits," explains Allen. "Sarah Lees plays the goody-goody one, and Mary Caroline Moore is the Mrs. Cratchit who undergoes a violent character change leading to her wild Christmas binge." (With twenty-one starving children and a perpetually cheerful husband, who wouldn't?)
"Rick Parerra from Atlanta, a new face for us, is playing Ebenezer Scrooge," continues Allen. "Valerie McKay is playing the Ghost of past, present and future. She's coming from Alpharetta, and she is wonderful. Lenton Lees, familiar to audiences in other NTC productions, is playing Bob Cratchit."
In keeping with Durang's intention of turning "A Christmas Carol" on its head, Little Nell is being played by Paige Mikles and Tiny Tim by William Newman, the two tallest people in the cast.
As the Ghost whisks Ebenezer off to different places, Mrs. Cratchit gets caught up in all the "whisking" and ends up going into the future. "She is very frustrated with her life – she's not in a happy place," said Allen. "But in the course of the play she eventually finds her happiness."
Durang doesn't mind borrowing from other great Christmas stories and dragging in other characters. Clarence the Angel shows up from "It's a Wonderful Life." Monica and Tess from "Touched by an Angel" make an appearance. The Ghost accidentally takes Scrooge into the lives of Oliver Twist and Leona Helmsley as well. The play also alludes to the Enron scandal and "The Gift of the Magi."
"There are musical numbers, as in any good Christmas show. There's also a moral, though we're not quite sure what it is. We'll leave it up to the audience to figure out," added Allen.
To purchase tickets, and for show dates and times, visit Newnan Theatre Company's web site at http://newnantheatre.org or visit the box office before or after any performance. The theater is located in historic downtown Newnan at 24 First Avenue.
Photo caption: Mary Caroline Moore (Mrs. Bob Cratchit), Molly McInturf (Madeline) and Sarah Demelow (Winnie-the-Pooh) all appear at Newnan Theatre Company for the holiday season.
Story written by Joan Doggrell.