December 12-22, 2017, enthusiastic audiences came to see to see a new staging of A Christmas Carol, the classic by Charles Dickens, at Argenta Community Theater. Werner Trieschmann’s review in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette carried the headline, “A Christmas Carol has theatrical magic.” Judy B. Goss crafted the script to closely follow the novella, written in 1843. In an interview with Stephanie Smittle of the Arkansas Times, Goss admitted not reading it previously but remembered seeing versions presenting it as “a grim tale which plays upon Scrooge’s guilt and pity for the crippled Tiny Tim.” Reading Dickens was a revelation of humor and compassion to Goss, who added, “Suspense never lags, vivid characters abound, and irresistible joy emerges from impending doom.”
ACT producers Vincent Insalaco and Judy Kohn Tenenbaum envisioned bringing a fresh production of the popular play to the Argenta Arts District as special holiday entertainment to continue annually for five years. For premiere performances, creative direction was conceived by Insalaco. Designers were Sara Cooke (set and technical direction), Shelly Hall (costumes), and Dena Kimberling (lighting); the creative team included music director, D. Brent Miller and choreographer, Christen Burke Pitts, and excellent cast and crews, who created a Victorian Christmas in England, celebrated by lamplighters and doll sellers as well as wealthy businessmen, all singing carols, eating treats and dancing to holiday tunes. They brought the trials of skinflint Scrooge to life, extending the question through plot twists and turns: will Scrooge be redeemed and experience life’s joys again?
Auditions for the 2018 production of A Christmas Carol will be held at ACT on August 5, 2 p.m.-5 p.m. The script has been revised by Goss, and Insalaco intends to encourage new casting for each year’s performances. For details, go to the ACT web site: