McNary drama goes nostalgic with ‘A Christmas Carol’ radio play

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Danny Rosales and Jade Rayner rifle through props looking for the ones they will use to provide sound effects for McNary’s production of A Christmas Carol slated for Friday, Dec. 14. (KEIZERTIMES/Eric A. Howald)

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The McNary High School drama department is planning a one-night-only production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol Friday, Dec. 14.

Director Dallas Myers is hoping to take a page from NPR’s Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion.

“We’re going small spectacle, a few lights and mics and that’s all,” he said.

A Chistmas Carol is the story of sour and stingy Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation resulting from supernatural visits from Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.

For the actors who will present the play, it’s meant learning to work within limits.

“Acting is always story-telling, but with this you’re limited to one aspect of your story telling, your voice,” said narrator Tanner Purkey.

Having to rely on what they can do with two vocal cords instead of a full range of movement to convey emotion has its own challenges.

“You have to make sure that everyone is able to keep track even when you’re barely keeping track,” said narrator Chelsea Stoffers.

The wide range of characters in the play means that the narrators have to draw from multiple aspects of their own personality. Tiny Tim requires innocence while Scrooge draws on nastiness, Purkey said.

“We have to be careful, too,” said narrator Trenton Campbell. “As narrators, we have a certain amount of foresight, but we have to remember that everything is happening to the character for the first time.”

Dividing up the role of narrator gives each of the six Celtics taking it on a breather during the long readings, but it also is an opportunity to discover new things in the familiar, said narrator Janice Yan.

“It can be hard to differentiate when we pick up where someone left off, but you get a different perspective, which is interesting. Being the narrator means finding your own character within all the roles,” she said.

In addition to narrators, several actors play specific roles when called upon to speak as a part of the script. The play drew two first-timers to the stage as well, both Aisha Amaitsa and Josielynn Sannes are taking on multiple roles for the production.

“It just sounded like fun and something that would be enjoyable to do,” Amaitsa said.

Sannes is still trying to figure out how to make the most of her Ghost of Christmas Future.

“All he does is make faces and point, but I’m not sure how or where I’m pointing. I’m watching a lot of movies to figure it out,” she said.

With actors supplying the voices of the play, it fell to Jade Rayner and Danny Rosales to come up with the sound effects. Their biggest challenge lies in the script’s adjectives, Rosales said.

“It’s mostly getting random props and banging them or clanking them, but then they want a grasping noise and we’re still trying to figure that out,” he said.

Rayner said it’s also a matter of figuring out when their mouths are sufficient for the purpose instead of reaching for a prop.

“You have to listen really closely to imagine the setting and what it looks like in your mind,” Rayner said.

The play is a fundraiser for the McNary Thespian Society, which is raising money to send a large contingent of current students to a regional competition in Eugene.

While drama is not often considered a competitive endeavor, narrator Rachel Barnes said spending time with fellow actors expands the realm of what is possible.

“We know and work with the people at McNary every day, but when we go to a competition or a festival, we get to learn from the other schools. The competitions give us a chance to grow a lot more,” Barnes said.

Tickets for A Christmas Carol are $5 and on sale at the high school, 595 Chemawa Road N. Curtain time is 7 p.m.

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