Torrington production of Dickens classic wows with solo spin
Warner’s Nancy Marine Studio Theatre, Torrington: When my husband heard I was going to the Warner to see Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” he wanted to know which one. He knows that there are so many adaptations playing at theaters all over Connecticut this holiday season. When I told him I was seeing a solo performance of it, he rolled his eyes and not believing asked, “A one-man show for ‘A Christmas Carol’?”
Little did he know that actor Dick Terhune was going to transfix the audience with his brilliant performance. The word “brilliant” is not hyperbole. It is definitive of this production. Terhune is a master artist and his riveting performance left the audience spellbound. Had I not witnessed it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed it. You must see it.
What is so remarkable is that with a few props, a desk and chair on a raised platform, a coat rack, an easy chair and a nondescript fireplace with no fire in it, Terhune was able to transport the audience through 19th-Century London streets and introduced us to so many unforgettable characters. The actor wore only a Dickensian top hat, a gray tailcoat, striped gray pants, burgundy vest and white shirt. There were no costume changes. There were no hi-tech projections, fiery special effects, or spooky sound effects. It was just one fascinating storyteller, an actor of the first magnitude.
By now just about everyone knows the story of the greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge. It was after he was visited by three ghosts that he changed into a generous and loving man. Terhune captures Scrooge’s transformation through the ghostly visits in the most subtle ways. He points a finger straight down as if it is a stick or pointer and it suddenly becomes a ghost telling Scrooge to look closely at something. The audience likewise follows that finger down to what each one imagines in his/her own unique creative mind what Scrooge sees. There’s just Dickens’ story, an actor, and our imaginations working overtime thanks to Terhune.
With a hushed slow word a ghost appears, with the swish of his arm a crowd disappears. The tools of an actor are his/her voice, facial expressions, and body language, all of which Terhune uses to the max. A deep voice describes the clanging from below the bedroom floor. A higher pitched tone and shy smile introduces Scrooge’s lost love. None of the vocals are fake or exaggerated.
The saying is that “the play’s the thing.” Here the play, adapted by Patrick R. Spadaccino from Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas,” is so grand that it needs just one crucial element — a great performance by an amazing actor. That is Dick Terhune.
Sharon W. Houk directed and designed the set. Lea Dmytryck took on assistant director. Renee C. Purdy’s costumes were exactly right, as were Kyle Kurtich’s lighting design and Dustin Pfaender’s sound design, and Karla Woodworth’s scenic art.
Don’t miss this stellar production playing through Dec. 15. Treat yourself and your family to this iconic rendering of an unforgettable classic. Box office: 860-489-7180.
Joanne Greco Rochman is an active member in the American Theatre Critics Association. She welcomes comments. Contact: email@example.com.