How to Go
What: “A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play”
Where: First Lutheran Church, 138 W. First St., Dayton
When: 7 p.m. Thursday-Saturday; 3 p.m. next Sunday
Cost: $10 for adults; $5 for youth
Tickets/more info: Visit www.firstlutheranchurchdayton.com
The recently formed Undercroft Players return for the holidays to present “A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play,” an adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic beginning performances Thursday downtown at First Lutheran Church.
Written and directed by founder Teresa Connair, “A Christmas Carol” places a colorful spin on the timeless tale by having the action come alive in the form of a 1940s radio presentation. Interspersed with local commercials and advertisements of local businesses, the play will be performed in First Lutheran’s basement, which is an inspired location since the word “undercroft” refers to a subterranean room, especially in a church.
“‘Christmas Carol’ will be so much fun to watch,” Connair said. “The show is still a straightforward telling of the story, but we’re able to do different things with it because of the radio show format. You get to see certain things as a live audience that you wouldn’t get to see if you were listening to the play on the radio. I enjoy the radio show format because it allows for several of the traditional casting conventions to be put aside. It’s all about an actor’s voice and not about age or looks. Someone who might not normally get cast in a particular role has the opportunity to try something new as well as have the chance to play multiple roles and all of them differently.”
Connair, who teaches theater classes at Rosewood Arts Centre and the Oakwood Community Center, has been an active member of the local community theater scene for many years through her involvement with such organizations as Beavercreek Community Theatre and the Dayton Theatre Guild. She particularly spearheaded BCT’s children’s theater component in addition to appearing in “The Spitfire Grill” and “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” Her memorable Guild credits include “And Miss Reardon Drinks a Little,” “Kimberly Akimbo,” “Mauritius” and “Speaking in Tongues.” She admits starting a theater company has been a lifelong dream, but when her fiance, a member of First Lutheran, informed her of the church’s availability she immediately put her plan into action. The troupe held its inaugural show, Trish Johnson’s “The Art of Self-Defense,” two months ago. Current plans are to continue the season this spring with a dinner theater presentation followed in the summer by a youth production.
“Creating a theater company is just another step in a process for me,” she said. “I’ve done a lot of theater at other places, but I always wanted my own theater. I want Undercroft Players to be a place where people can see quality, professional, local theater at a reasonable price. I also hope we can be an open outlet for actors, especially those who may not have the opportunity to perform elsewhere. I want to provide a place where everyone feels they can participate.”
The “Christmas Carol” cast includes Kathleen Anderson, Andrew Connair, Elizabeth Connair, Even Hancock, Levi Hancock, Preston Hancock, Spencer Hancock, David Hallowren, Gabriella Larranaga-King, Matt Lindsay, Elizabeth Manning, Terry Morris, Leo Santucci, Max Santucci, Joe Sellers, Linda Sellers, Sarah Sellers and First Lutheran Pastor Bob Swanson.
“We’re offering a different type of entertainment, a different way to see ‘Christmas Carol,’” added Connair. “Along with the familiarity of the standard tale, the new twist of the radio format adds a different level of enjoyment. The message of the show as well as the season is no matter what our circumstances during the holidays, and every day, we need to be the best we can be and share all the good we have to offer with those around us.”