On Stage

Estella Scrooge

A twisted Christmas Carol

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What: Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol With a Twist

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WHEN: Stream through Sun., Jan. 3

Cost: $30 for a 72-hour viewing for each household; $45 for a VIP Premium Theatre Experience including unlimited viewings, a download of the CD and exclusive behind-the-scenes footage

Info: http://www.bellinghamtheatreguild.com

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Is greed genetic? That’s one of many questions to ponder when you settle in for a virtual viewing of Estella Scrooge: A Christmas Carol With a Twist.

The seasonal take on Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella has been updated not only to bring the old-timey tale into the present day, but also to make allowances for what it takes to produce a play in the middle of a global pandemic—including utilizing green screen techniques and digital environments merged with footage of actors who were filmed individually to allow for social distancing.

From now through Sun., Jan. 3, purchasing a ticket to the online-only production will help you see what’s possible when creativity and cutting-edge technology combine. Locally, it will also help raise funds for the Bellingham Theatre Guild, which has been shuttered since mid-March.

While it waits to reopen until it can insure the safety of its patrons, actors, tech crew and volunteers, the longtime community theater at 1600 H Street is staying busy behind the scenes. Building and technical crews have used the downtime to make improvements and complete various projects, and BTG President Lynn Starcher reports that the cast of The Smell of the Kill—the play that was in the middle of production when COVID-19 first hit—continues to meet up via Zoom to run line rehearsals and keep their spirits up.

Additionally, a small group is working on another show to stage after the dark comedy about three unhappy housewives who are faced with a life-and-death decision relating to their husbands ends its much-anticipated run.

In a Thanksgiving-day message to Bellingham Theatre Guild’s many supporters, Starcher noted they were keeping their eyes on the future and counting their blessings for those who have helped keep the theater alive thus far.

“When we think of the season, we think of all of you and want you to know how much we appreciate your kindness and support,” she said. “We were stunned at the generosity of so many of you when we invited you to consider joining us as members last August. To our amazement, donations sufficient to cover five months of our ‘holding pattern’ poured in. Thank you!”

Though they’d rather be in the middle of bringing live showings of Into the Woods to their fan base this December, Estella Scrooge will act as a placeholder for those eager to infuse their holidays with a familiar tale.

In addition to incorporating characters and plot lines from A Christmas Carol, the musical also draws from some of Dickens’ other famous novels, including Great Expectations, Little Dorrit, and Bleak House (among others). A cast of 24 Broadway actors brings Tony and Olivier award-winning director John Caird’s vision to life, and although it may take a minute to get used to the digital theater experience, the wait will be worth it.

Soon after the opening credits, you’ll meet the titular character, a cold-hearted money grubber who’s the CEO of Bleak House Capital. When Estella (played by Betsy Wolfe) returns to her hometown in Pickwick, Ohio, it’s not for a holiday homecoming, but to personally foreclose on a hotel her former boyfriend, Philip Nickelby (Clifton Duncan), has turned into a refuge for those in need.

If the three ghosts who visit Estella have anything to say about it—including Ebenezer Scrooge himself—it’s likely she’ll wake up on Christmas morning with more lightness than darkness in her heart, and hotel Harthouse will be saved.

Discovering the true joy of giving is a theme that always bears repeating, and Estella Scrooge joins its predecessors in delivering that message.
So, too, does caring for other people, something Starcher commented on while sharing her own tidings of the season.

“Throughout the holidays, please continue to stay safe for yourself, your family and friends, and look forward to better times next year,” she said. “We appreciate your continued support and look forward to seeing you when we can once more stage shows at Bellingham Theatre Guild.”

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