Seen A Christmas Carol too many times, try live radio.
One of the hidden secrets in Seattle is West Seattle itself; a lower density, less frenetic community with less traffic, and its own little hidden secret: Kenyon Hall. Built in 1916, it has a very old-fashioned small town feel to it, so it was a perfect setting for the 12th Night Production of A Christmas Carol-A Live Radio Production, which opened on Friday night, Dec. 4th.
Like many of the old radio shows, this show was actually a variety show with three features. Opening the evening was The Fabulous Mistletoes, who warmed up the audience before the first of the double features came on.
Dick Doubleheart is a prototypical private eye of the 1940’s complete with trench coat, a wise-cracking secretary and a penchant for curvaceous redheads. John Ruoff, wrote the script, which mixed private eye plots and the fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood. I would say that I had difficulty following the script as there were so many corny jokes ,which were played too much for laughs, so they mostly fell flat. Also the acting never got beyond caricatured and the play went on for too long to subsist on flat characters alone, it needed a little more substance.
Before the intermission, the costumed Mistletoes came back with a rather peculiar but utterly delightful black humor version of The Twelve Days of Christmas, which was extremely funny and original.
The main feature, A Christmas Carol, was an adaptation of Charles Dickens celebrated 1843 novella, of the same name. Along with the strong moral message of Christian charity and redemption, A Christmas Carol also popularized Christmas as more than just a religious holiday incorporating the Teutonic Christmas traditions such as Christmas trees into the Anglo-Saxon traditions. The first stage adaptation was in 1844, and the book has never been out of print.
And what an adaptation it was. The audience was encouraged to participate, given precise instructions on how to do so, and we all got to see the incredible sound effects. Accompaniment was provided by Lou Magor on the mighty 1929 Wurlitzer organ, adding to the authenticity of the evening. The costumes were all vintage 1940’s.
A Christmas Carol has some wonderful poetic language, so it is perfect to adapt as a radio play. Being part of the audience is great fun and just being in Kenyon Hall is a unique experience, it takes us back to the day when entertainment was simpler, but as they say in theatre, less is more. The very simplicity of this production added a huge amount.
A Christmas Carol-A Live Radio Play, 12th Night Productions. Kenyon Hall, 7904-35th Ave SW, Seattle, WA-West Seattle. Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13 @7:30. Matinées Dec. 7 and 14 @ 3pm. Tickets: (206) 937-3613 or www.kenyonhall.org. ( Street Parking available)