Michigan playwright Joseph Zettelmaier needed only one word for his premier script about Ebenezer Scrooge – the rest of the Dickens tale A Christmas Carol – simply, Ebenezer.
WOW: The one word that popped to mind after the first preview show at Williamston Theatre, in Williamston, MI.
Now playing through Dec. 23, Zettlemaier’s Ebenezer in a one-word phenomenon. A phenomenal play, destined to become a Christmas classic. That was the consensus of the audience, those folks who always come to test the waters of the latest WT play, and enjoy the after-show discussion with playwright and director.
They left the theatre that night floating in a bubble of WOW.
Here’s my take on it. WOW: Wisdom, Originality, Wonder. That’s how I’d fill this orb of Ebenezer WOW.
Wisdom. I loved the wisdom of Ebenezer, played by veteran actor Arthur J. Beer. I didn’t know what to expect from this play, only what I’d read in the WT description:
It’s a cold Christmas Eve in London, and Ebenezer Scrooge sits in a hospital room. Fifteen years have passed since his miraculous transformation by the Ghosts of Christmas. Now renowned for his generosity and selflessness, his spirit still yearns to bring cheer to the world, but his flesh is weak. Such a little thing isn’t likely to stop the old man, though, for he has a plan up his sleeve that he hasn’t shared with his two troubled companions – Miss Poole [played by Alysia Kolascz], and Tim Cratchit [played by Joseph Seibert], recently returned from war in America. Over the course of the evening, these two lost souls bear witness to events they do not fully understand as the spirit of Christmas descends on Ebenezer once again.
The wisdom of the life and times of Ebenezer Scrooge, deftly woven throughout, rings true for our 21st Century times, as well, we discover. In that sense, Zettelmaier’s work will surely become a favorite Christmas classic.
Originality. I’ve enjoyed all of Zettelmaier’s plays at WT, but was amazed at the delightfully fresh and engaging originality of the story that he spins out, with these three great actors in the intimate space of the hospital room on stage.
If you wanted to create a sequel for the Ebenezer Scrooge classic, what would you write? I can’t imagine any more pleasing way than what Zettelmaier has written, in combo with superb direction by Willamston Theatre Executive Director John Lepard, and perfect casting.
Wonder. This is where the wonder comes in. Ebenezer is a magical sequel to the Scrooge story, portrayed by wonderful actors in a magical setting…complete with a feel-good ending that brings Scrooge’s journey full circle and leaves its magical imprint on your heart.
The light-heartedness goes with you, as you step out the WT door, feeling optimistic about humanity. The spirit of Christmas — Ebenezer reminds you — is a spirit of wonder you can bring to life every day.
I CAN imagine that Joseph Zettelmaier’s Ebenezer, after its World Premiere at Williamston Theatre, will WOW audiences for many Christmases to come.
Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; Saturdays at 3pm; Sundays at 2pm
Thanksgiving weekend: Friday, Nov. 23 @3pm and 8pm; Saturday, Nov. 24 @3pm & 8pm; Sunday, Nov. 25 @2pm
For ticket prices, and to order online: Williamston Theatre website
Article Links about Williamston Theatre and Ebenezer:
Lansing State Journal: Old Ebenezer comes to Williamston stage
Broadway World: Williamston Theatre presents Ebenezer, World Premiere
Christmas 2012 Williamston Theatre Update:
Director John Lepard reprises his own Christmas classic: “This Wonderful Life” –his award-winning one-man show with all the beloved characters from the mythical Bedford Falls, after Frank Capra’s film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Lepard wowed audiences in 2009 with his endearing performance as George Bailey and all the townsfolk. Due to popular demand, he brought “This Wonderful Life” back to Williamston, last season, receiving more acclaim.
Theatre goers may once again enjoy this fantastic show for eight performances, Dec. 21-31 at the Tipping Point Theatre in Northville, MI. Click on Encore Michigan announcement for showtimes and prices
Encore Michigan: Everyone will appreciate the inspired work of Lepard, whose masterful performance gives life to a whole town full of people and brings a smile to your face along the way.
My blog about “This Wonderful Life” from last Christmas: