Christmas play premieres after tree lighting – Park Rapids Enterprise

The Northern Light Opera Company presents “A Very Good Christmas Carol” at 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 24, immediately following the Christmas tree lighting, at the Armory Arts & Events Center.

This two-person telling of the Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” invites audience participation, and was previewed last summer in Park Rapids. The performance is free to the public.

The play was written and performed by teaching actors Hawken Paul and Jeffrey Nolan, who work with the Children’s Theater Company of Minneapolis, among other theater groups. They also directed this summer’s NLOKids production, “Lost in a Tune.”

Based on Charles Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol,” the two-man play features what Paul calls “some level of hat-swapping shenanigans,” with both actors playing multiple roles, though Paul will mainly play Scrooge.

“We’re hitting every major beat of the story,” said Nolan.

However, Paul said, “We are lifting a whole lot less from the source material than we were the last time we brought it to Park Rapids. We’ve gone back and tried to make it a little bit more fast-paced, a little bit more comedic, while still maintaining the heart of the story.”

As for the audience’s role, Nolan said, “We’re going to have a lot of singing that the audience can do, a lot of sound effects to help us out. There’s some call-and-responses, and there just may be some opportunities for some audience members to come up on stage and play some of these characters themselves.”

Nolan said they’re excited to bring the play back to Park Rapids, which provided the first audience for the work then in progress. “It’s really nice to have started it there and then, also, to have our first real performance be up there as well.”

“And also to be able to perform on the night of the tree lighting ceremony is very exciting to the two of us,” Paul added.

Asked why they chose this particular story to adapt, Nolan said, “What I like a whole lot about ‘A Christmas Carol’ is that it’s a story about the power of being good, choosing to be good, and how important and special that can be. I think it’s a really simple message that transcends the holidays, and that shows the staying power of Dickens.

“And then, along with that, how Scrooge decides to embrace the community that he has around him, that is there for him and is ready to lift him up, if he’ll only choose to accept it. That’s why we wanted to do it in this particular way, with two people engaging the audience so much that we could try to replicate some of that community spirit ourselves.”

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