COD College Theater dedicates 'A Christmas Carol' production to actor and playwright William J. Norris

  • In 2014, the COD College Theatre brought William J. Norris' adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" back to the MAC stage. Norris who was the first to play Scrooge in Goodman Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol," passed away last November. COD College Theater is dedicating this production to him.

    In 2014, the COD College Theatre brought William J. Norris' adaptation of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" back to the MAC stage. Norris who was the first to play Scrooge in Goodman Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol," passed away last November. COD College Theater is dedicating this production to him. Courtesy of The MAC

 
 
Posted11/18/2022 12:08 AM

More than 50 actors from across the Chicago area will take the stage on Thanksgiving weekend for the College of DuPage College Theater's production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."

Not only is the production a beloved tradition for audiences, but for many, acting in the production has become a family tradition enjoyed by multiple generations.

 

This adaptation was written by William J. Norris specifically for the students at College of DuPage. It was performed for the first time in 2004.

Norris, the first to play Scrooge in Goodman Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol," passed away Nov. 30, 2021. COD College Theater is dedicating this production to him.

Performances will be 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, and 3 and 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 26-27, in the Belushi Performance Hall, 425 Fawell Blvd. in Glen Ellyn. It is directed by Amelia Barrett, COD Theater department chair and professor of theater.

A mean-spirited old man, a poor but optimistic clerk and three visiting ghosts join forces to take audiences on a magical journey and show the true meaning of the holiday season. This 70-minute version of Dickens' heartwarming classic Christmas story that is perfect for all ages.

"For me, rather than a redemption story, it is the story of rediscovery; a rediscovery of the love and light that remain all around us, even if we need to be reminded of it before it passes us by," says director Barrett. "In order to truly see what is around us, we need to find forgiveness within ourselves before we can find love, we need to feel pain before we are able to truly experience joy, and we need allow ourselves to witness the community and the impact that we can have on one another. Our production with its beautiful period costumes and wonderful special effects will warm hearts as it chronicles Scrooge's transformation from a lonely, coldhearted soul into a man filled with the joy of the holiday and appreciation of life's opportunity for change."

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"A Christmas Carol," was the first of Dickens' highly successful Christmas books. It was written when the British were exploring and re-evaluating past Christmas traditions, including carols and newer customs such as Christmas trees. It was published Dec. 19, 1843, and the first edition sold-out by Christmas Eve. By the end of 1844, 13 editions had been released. Since then, "A Christmas Carol" has never been out of print and the story has been translated into other languages and adapted many times for radio, film and stage.

The cast for this year's production features William P. Schumacher (Ebenezer Scrooge); the Cratchit Family includes James Wheeler (Bob Cratchit), Kellie de Leon (Mrs. Cratchit), Elise Lech (Martha Cratchit), Camden de Leon (Peter Cratchit), Layla McGady (Belinda Cratchit) and Vivienne de Leon (Tiny Tim Cratchit); Brandon Luna (Marley's Ghost); Luna Shunk (Ghost of Christmas Past); Jackie Schiro (Ghost of Christmas Present); Calvin Fleming (Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come); Reet Bhasin (Mr. Balthazar); Chris Yee (Mr. Caspar); Nicholas Cole Phillips (Fred); Jamie Foster (Fred's Wife); Fred's Party Guests including Annie Wagner (Ursula), Tyler Wisner (Topper), Jenna Jongsma (Ambrosia) and Dylan Bart (Oscar); Vinny Scanio (Mr. Fezziwig); Linda Bertani (Mrs. Fezziwig); Lucas Wiegel (Scrooge as a Boy); Lauren Sobecki (Fan); Sam Drake (Scrooge as a Young Man); Monica Rosales (Belle); Jose Mari Barrios (Joe) and Emma Schmaltz (Mrs. Creakle).

The rest of the ensemble hails from Chicago and 24 suburbs and includes Lynn Borge, Giana Carioscia, Ryan Castiglia, Brynn Egge, Anja Egge, Susannah Gieschen, Carolyn Goldsmith, Michael Guzman, Katya Higgins, Jack Knight, Brianna T. Kretschmer-Deem, Gavin McGady, Channel Moore, Emma Munguia, Jose Pantoja, Ella Pape, Mariana Quezada, Lazar Radonjic, Nina Radonjic, Marirose Rueth, Anika Salgia, Rishi Salgia, Madeline Sobecki, Jenna Snart, Marlo Tallarico, Nathan Warren, Amanda Winstrup, Alicia Wiegel, Mariella Wiegel and Nora Zamora.

The artistic/design team for "A Christmas Carol" features Amelia Barrett (director/COD Theater Dept. Chair), Sabrina Zeidler (scenic design), Kimberly Morris (costume, hair and makeup design), Elias Morales (lighting design) and Christopher Kriz (sound design). Stage manager is Elmeka Elme, a Belushi Second City Scholarship recipient.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Barrett most recently directed COD productions of "The SpongeBob Musical" and "Badger." Professionally, she has directed multiple Buffalo Theatre Ensemble productions, where she is Associate Artistic Director and a member of the acting ensemble. As an actor, she has appeared with other local, regional, and international companies. She is a proud member of Actors' Equity Association as well as the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Radio and Television Artists. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in acting and a Graduate Certificate in Laban Movement Analysis.

Adapter William J. Norris (1946-2021) was a theater professional for more than 45 years. An Emmy, Joseph Jefferson, and five-time Artisan Awards winner, his playwriting credits include the dramas "Before I Wake," "Johns" and "Bloody Bess"; the opera "The Christmas Present," the musical "Fornicopia"; and the comedies "The Paisley Scar" and "Vienna Was Never So Gay." Norris portrayed Scrooge in 12 Goodman productions, and was featured in another 11 productions in other roles including Marley's Ghost, Mr. Fezziwig and Old Joe.

Support for College Theater is made possible by a generous gift from the College of DuPage Foundation's Dr. Donald and Helen (Gum) Westlake Fund for Student Productions

Tickets are $16 or $14 for students and seniors. To order or for more information visit AtTheMAC.org or call (630) 942-4000.

There will be a preshow discussion with members of the production team at 5:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25, and a post-show discussion with the director and actors Saturday, Nov. 26 following the 7 p.m. performance.

A performance presented under the MAC's School Stage initiative geared toward second to eighth grade will take place at 10 a.m. Monday, Nov. 28. Tickets are $8. For tickets or more information, call (630) 942-2220 or email Dawn Smith at smithd137@cod.edu.

Spirit of the season

Beginning Nov. 24 through Dec. 18, MAC Giving Tree is accepting nonperishable food items for the COD Fuel Pantry and People's Resource Center. The Fuel Pantry is for all students facing food insecurity and in need of assistance. For more information, visit cod.edu/pantry. The People's Resource Center food pantry serves more than 3,000 families from across DuPage County each month. For more information about the People's Resource Center, visit peoplesrc.org. Also being accepted: books and board games for children and adults for Metropolitan Family Services DuPage. For more information about Metropolitan Family Services, visit metrofamily.org/community-centers/dupage.

The mission of the MAC is to foster enlightened educational and performance opportunities, which encourage artistic expression, establish a lasting relationship between people and art, and enrich the cultural vitality of the community. For more information about the MAC, visit AtTheMAC.org, @AtTheMAC on Facebook and Instagram.

Support for the McAninch Arts Center is provided in part by the DoubleTree by Hilton Lisle/Naperville; the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; Follett, WDCB 90.9 FM and the College of DuPage Foundation. Established as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit charitable organization in 1967, the College of DuPage Foundation raises monetary and in-kind gifts to increase access to education and to enhance cultural opportunities for the surrounding community. For more information about the College of DuPage Foundation, visit foundation.cod.edu or call (630) 942-2462.

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