When the Bristol Theater Company opens this year’s performance of “A Christmas Carol,” two things will be showcased. First, a high quality production that community theater can present when the talents of people from several East Bay communities and beyond are drawn into one effort; and two, the positive effect that can result when a town finds the right re-use of a municipal building.
“In the 20 year history of the Bristol Theater Company, we’ve been bouncing around,” said Marie Knapman, chairman of the group’s board of directors. “Now we’re all in one spot.”
Although only there on a show-to-show basis for now, the Bristol Theater Company has put enough “sweat-equity” into the Reynolds School auditorium to make them feel right at home. And on a recent Sunday afternoon when over 50 actors and dozens of volunteers were there to prepare for the upcoming run, there was an energy and purpose that seemed fitting for the one-time school.
Using the Reynolds School, the actors will experience all the components of putting on a production – rehearsal, costumes, stage setting – all in one place.
“This is great,” Ms. Knapman said.
After presenting “A Christmas Carol” last year with a mix of adult and children actors, this year’s production will feature an all-children’s cast – with the exception of Scrooge – who will be played by Richard Bento, the Company’s theater director.
“I’m very fortunate. The Bristol Theater Company and the East Bay has the most talented group of kids I’ve ever had,” he said. “We wanted to make it different than last year and had an abundance of talented kids. It’s a nicely adapted script. Once you enter Reynolds School and the lights go down you’re going to be taken back to Dickens’ time. Not at any moment will (the audience) sit back and think this is a kids’ production.”
Under musical director Lyn Soderlund and choreographers, Tracey Lima and Robin DaSilveira, the Charles Dickens’ classic will combine acting with singing and dancing.
At 6 years old, Nathan Mancieri of Bristol will have his first speaking role playing Tiny Tim. He’ll share the stage with his brothers, Anthony, who plays Turkey Boy, and Brian, who plays Mr. Fezziwig.
Other actors include Abby Moore of Portsmouth who will play the Ghost of Christmas Past, Tyler Daponte of Warren who plays Bob Crachet and R.J. Lima of Bristol in the role of Jacob Marley.
“We’re very fortunate to use this theater, enabling them to do what they love to do,” Mr. Bento said of the Company’s actors. “The town has been very supportive.”
Already the show has sold out two nights, and nearly a third, prompting the Company to add another date onto the six show schedule.
“There are so many things going on during the holidays. This is when people can come to Bristol for dinner and take two hours away from the craziness to find out what Christmas is all about. This is the place to do it,” said Mr. Bento.
Want to go?
Show times are 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 11 through Saturday, Dec. 14. (NOTE: Show is SOLD OUT for Dec. 12 and 13.) Matinee performances will be at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 14 and Sunday, Dec. 15. Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and children under 10 years old. Reynolds School building is located at 235 High St. in Bristol, with plenty of on-street and municipal lot space within walking distance. For information or to purchase tickets, call 401-424-1315.