By Corinne Kleinman
Through whirling snow, as carolers in terrific period 1840s costumes extolled the values of friendship and goodwill, a curmudgeon learned the values of charity and friendship—with such glad tidings, Tuscarora High School opened the holiday season with a bang. After all, what better way to welcome in this time of peace, love and joy than with Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol?
The tale of a miserly misanthrope visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future to convince him to change his ways, this iconic 1843 novella immediately met widespread critical acclaim, endearing itself to generations worldwide – transformed into a variety of genres, including around 30 film versions. A year after publication, nine productions of this tale dominated London stage — proving that the universal themes of forgiveness, transformation, and charity never go out of style. Interestingly, this story popularized the phrase Merry Christmas and spurred many other commonplace Christmas traditions, like family gatherings and serving turkey for Christmas dinner.
Student director Jason Wyatt Ragner jumped wholeheartedly into the creation of 1840s England with an extraordinary number of individual scenes and terrific props that created an unforgettable night. Enormous, two-level, intricate sets (which took a bit of maneuvering) – from Scrooges office to his two-story house to the graveyard – gave the impression of an actual town. The props, too, lent authenticity, with realistic-looking food items an impressive fire in Scrooges bedroom, a wonderfully designed four-poster bed, and high-tech snow and fog machines, to really bring 1840s England to life.
Into this world of holiday cheer stepped Jordan Tate, committing himself to portraying a Ebenezer Scrooge with a consistent British accent, bent-over posture, grumpy disposition, and believable makeup heightening his anti-Christmas personality. His transformation into a joyous man felt believable and real.
The Ghosts of Christmas Past (Katie OSullivan), Present (Kendall Guntner), and Future (Natalie Ah Nee) had fabulous costumes and distinctive make-up, and each added her own individual flair. OSullivan, with Christmas lights around her waist, created a charming fairy-like performance by skipping around the stage, dancing to the music, and a whimsical voice. Guntner, clad in a spicy green velour gown to portray Christmas Present, enthralled the audience as she wafted through the Present to reveal Scrooges family. Ah Nee and her demons effectively portrayed emotional doom, creating startling and deep foreboding in the graveyard as they showed Scrooge his tombstone.
Carrie Zurliene, as Belle, made the most of both of her scenes. With only a few lines, she consistently showed the progress of an entire character of the years as her relationship with Scrooge changed from his being in love with her to being in love with money.
Most adorably, the Junior Actors Kye Leudemann, Alexa Cuozzo, Anna Hurst, Jacob Costello, Will OSullivan, Parker Leudemann, and Joseph Internicola – pulled in strong performances with strong, clear British accents.
The costumes, too, really allowed the actors to shine. Each intricate hoop skirt and petticoat, and many other costumes (64 of 251), were laboriously sewed by Molly Klemm, Carrie Zurliene, Fernanda Estrella, and Teryn Cuozzo. Additionally, the hairstyles of the entire cast were incredible – Mary (Kelly De Angioletti)s in particular was complex and accurate.
In all, the Tuscarora community came together to help promote the values of friendship and goodwill. Publicizing the holiday spirit, the Marketing and Publicity teams pre-sold an impressive 1,033 tickets with their creative Instagram pages and social media profiles.
A night of wonder and magic, Tuscaroras A Christmas Carol brought in the warmth and good cheer of the upcoming holiday, reminding us that generosity brings the world a Merry Christmas.
[The writer, Corinne Kleinman, is a student at Wakefield School. This review is part of a series published in a partnership between Loudoun Now and The Cappies, a writing and awards program that trains high school theatre and journalism students to be expert writers, critical thinkers, and leaders.]