Sequels seem to be all the rage nowadays. Movies come in threes and fours instead of just having one film and letting it be. Williamston Theatre’s holiday show, “Ebenezer” in its world premiere, may be a sequel of sorts but it sure won’t be one that goes straight to video any time soon.
“Ebenezer” is another brilliant brainchild of playwright Joseph Zettelmaier and directed by John Lepard, a pair that work well together. There are details, and a few characters, that refer back to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” but that is where the comparisons to it being a “sequel” begin and end.
The rest contains a show that is extremely original. One that will make you smile, laugh and cry all within its 90 minutes.
It tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge (Arthur J. Beer in a breathtaking performance) 15 years after his visit from the Ghosts of Christmas. Scrooge has changed completely since we last saw him, keeping many of the charities of London alive. While his legacy may live on his life is quickly coming to an end.
Beer does a tremendous job as the formerly greedy man. When he smiled, I smiled, when he got sad and upset, I got teary-eyed. This is a role that was made for him and when others portray Scrooge, well, good luck.
Joseph Seibert’s Tim Cratchit and Alysia Kolascz’s Miss Poole have also set the bar high for future actors. Seibert may be new to the Williamston stage but he gives one heck of a performance. His warm smile and sad eyes say so much about Tiny Tim’s life as a man. Kolascz is also a joy to watch as the nurse, who much like Cratchit has a few hidden secrets behind those big eyes.
As a trio it’s like watching a group of old friends gather. They have a chemistry that some shows take years, and numerous actors, to get just right.
Another duo that does fantastic work together is scenic designer Janine Woods Thoma and lighting designer/technical director Alex Gay. The duo most recently worked together on “boom” and “Red, White and Tuna.” Like those shows they do amazing things with the set yet again.
Dickens created a timeless classic with “A Christmas Carol” but Zettelmaier just created a second holiday must-see, one that I anticipate to be around for a long time in theaters all across the country. Zettelmaier better get ready for his fifth American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg New Play Award nomination.