Theatre department brings Charles Dickens’ classic to life

Published by Hope Hoehler, Author: Hope Hoehler - Assistant Campus Life Editor , Date: December 1, 2018
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Slippery Rock University’s theatre department performed Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in the multi-purpose room in the University Union Nov. 30 through Dec. 6.  

The production is a 70-minute adaptation written by SRU professor of theatre David Skeele and had no intermission.  

The cast consisted of 29 students, one SRU alum of the theatre department, and a handful of children from Slippery Rock Elementary School.  

The theatre department has performed “A Christmas Carol” twice before this production. Deanna Brookens, assistant professor in the department, directed this year’s show.  

Brookens, as a first-time director of “A Christmas Carol,” said she wanted to do something different with the 2018 production by including children. Brookens said she loves working with community children and does creative drama programming in the area.  

“I love watching everyone share their creativity and collaboration,” Brookens said. “Seeing people of different ages, experience levels, and the mentorship that arises out of that is really special.”

Erik Warmbein, a sophomore history major and theatre minor, portrayed Ebenezer Scrooge in this year’s production. Warmbein has performed in two previous productions before “A Christmas Carol” — the department’s production of “Heathers: the Musical” in March 2018 and a student production of “This is Our Youth” two months later. 

Warmbein said that the preparation for this production was very different from preparation he’s done for other shows in a sense that he’s never played an evil or angry character onstage before. Warmbein said that it was different because there was a lot of channeling Scrooge’s personality into his facial expressions.  

“[The most difficult part] for me in this production is staying focused the whole time,” Warmbein said. “I’m there for every minute of it because the audience is always looking at me and there is not time for me to go offstage and recollect myself.”

Warmbein said that although the preparation is tricky to play a mean character, it’s also fun because he gets to go onstage and shake his cane angrily at anyone who looks at him wrong. 

“It’s kind of fun to play an angry character on stage, especially because that’s not me in real life,” Warmbein said. 

Kristina Streno, senior and theatre acting major, played the Ghost of Christmas Present in this year’s production. Streno has been in the department for four years and was Mrs. Cratchit two years ago in a previous performance of “A Christmas Carol.”

Streno said that for her character preparation there were a lot of body movements that she had to learn to fit her character’s posture and personality.  

“I have a big hoop that I have to walk in and learning how to walk properly and not fall on my face [was the most difficult part],” Streno said.  

Streno said that being onstage takes a lot of trusting each other, making sure she knows her lines and trusting that the other cast members know theirs.  

“I love going out on the stage. Opening night is my favorite night,” Streno said. “Theatre is a really great thing and it’s really sad that some people don’t see it the same way that they used to.” 

To learn more about the theatre department, follow them on Instagram @srutheatre or on Twitter @sru_theatre.