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‘A Christmas Carol’ production begins at BIG ARTS Strauss Theater

November 30, 2016
By MEGHAN McCOY ( , Island Reporter, Captiva Current, Sanibel-Captiva Islander

A talented cast of six actors will bring the story of "A Christmas Carol" to life, as it is portrayed through the eyes of a child, inviting the entire family to enjoy the performance.

"The opening of the show is a little boy in his bedroom. Mother calls out, 'Nicolas it's time for homework' and he picks out a book and starts reading it. It is the book of 'A Christmas Carol.' As he starts to read the story, the story comes to life in the center of the stage," BIG ARTS Artistic Director Bobby Logue said. "By the end of it, the child is invited into the story by the actors and becomes part of the actual company."

"A Christmas Carol" will take the stage through Dec. 23, at BIG ARTS Strauss Theater. Both matinee and evening showings are offered.

Article Photos

Katie Pankow, performing the roles of gentle woman, Mrs. Fizziwig, Bell and Martha, reading her lines, as Director Jeff Stockberger listens in on the first day of rehearsal.


"We want everyone to come in here and have the Christmas spirit fill them up," Logue said.

Santa Claus will make an appearance from 3 to 5 p.m. Dec. 10, Dec. 16, Dec. 17 and Dec. 23. A free picture with Santa, sponsored by Bank of the Islands, will be available.

"We can't think of a better way to help usher in the holiday season on Sanibel," Willy Ocasio, Bank of the Islands assistant vice president and Sanibel-Captiva office manager said in a prepared statement. "And the surprise news coming out of the North Pole makes it even more exciting to co-sponsor this production. This is a great way to show how much we appreciate being your island bank!"

The actors include Rob Sommers, Katie Pankow, Galloway Stevens, Jake Delaney, Nicholas Salerno and Samantha Rotella.

"There are some familiar faces that our audiences will recall from past seasons and there are also a lot of brand new faces this year," Logue said. "The spirit of Christmas is about camaraderie, family and being together and creating good, good feelings. It's the unity and teamwork (of the actors) that you watch and see being created in front of you. I think it's going to lend itself to audiences feeling that they are also a part of creating this feeling and this atmosphere. There is definitely an ongoing heartbeat of the show that the longer they go on acting in these different roles the more heart and spirit is conveyed in the show."

Director Jeff Stockberger said throughout the play the child is reading and interacting with the story, while the other actors also participate in narrating the story.

"They are all kind of telling the story and being a part of it," Stockberger said.

The director said although "A Christmas Carol" is not a musical, they have a violin player accompanying the play, as well as providing segways between scenes.

"There is a little bit of singing, but it is definitely a play," Stockberger said.

Logue said the production of "A Christmas Carol" was originally created for a small black theater in Manhattan. He said they wanted to do "A Christmas Carol," but almost every production either play or musical had casts as large as 30 people.

"Someone that was a part of their production team decided to write their own version of the show. The name of the author is Christopher Schario," Logue said. "Basically what he did was scaled down a 30 person production to be a six person production with all of the actors playing all the essential roles, but each actor, in a sense keeps changing their hat."

Another appealing aspect of this version of "A Christmas Carol" was it being geared towards the family. Logue said a lot of times individuals correlate "A Christmas Story" with it being a little dark and scary, not geared towards youngsters.

"This one plays homage to all of the wonderful Dickens language, and the play itself and the lessons it teaches, but it definitely has a little bit more of a light hearted tone. We have all of the elements of 'A Christmas Carol,' but it definitely appeals to everyone, so the 4 and 5 year olds won't get scared in their seats," Logue said.

Stockberger said the play also includes a sense of humor because everyone is playing different parts and doing sound effects.

This is the first time the BIG ARTS Straus Theater is presenting "A Christmas Carol" around the holidays.

"We normally do something close to Christmas, but usually it is a review and really quick. We have kind of rearranged our schedule and we have made it to where we have the ability to have a rehearsal period with the set from the very first day," Logue said. "We are prioritizing our artistic needs a little bit better now and it helps us have a better product at the end."

Although this is the first time Stockberger has directed a play at the theater, he has worked with Logue in Indianapolis in the past.

"I have been friends with Jeff for so many years," Logue said. "We did about four or five shows together."

"A Christmas Carol" is a story that Stockberger is very familiar with. He said he has done a one hour version with about a 14 person cast that he has either directed, or played Scrooge, or Marley for the last 15 years. Stockberger also wrote a two act version that still plays at the Temple Theater in North Carolina.

"I'm excited because this is a whole different take, another spin on it with six people, but the story is the same. It's just how we tell it is different," he said.

For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit, or call (239) 395-0900.



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