The Oceanside Theatre Company brings its unique take on a classic Charles Dickens story to the stage with “A Christmas Carol: A Radio Play.” The production will play a total of four days, from Dec. 13 to Dec. 15 and Dec. 22.
The show’s director Ted Leib, who also serves as the artistic director for Oceanside Theatre, said that the show will be in the fashion of old radio dramas. The seven actors — some of whom will be using “supplemental costume pieces” and performing multiple roles — will just deliver their lines into microphones, as there is no movement about the stage (blocking). Those actors who are not performing will sit in the meantime. “It’s like you’re sitting in on a radio broadcast,” Leib said.
When it comes to directing people who are playing multiple roles, Leib said, “You want to make sure you have those distinctions, but at the same time, keeping them very honest and real and very grounded. You don’t want people to just do voices, imitations, they need to find what the different characters are.
“And that’s a large part of direction. It’s not just being a traffic cop, and telling where to go, here or there.”
The show will also utilize sound effects, an accompanying musical score and projections to help tell the story of Ebeneezer Scrooge, a miserable old miser who is visited by the ghost of his old business partner, who warns him of damnation if he does not turn a new leaf. To that end, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future appear before Ebeneezer to get him to see the error of his ways.
Even though the play will not feature much in the way of physical movement, the show will still feature a physical set to place the theater’s audience in the atmosphere of 19th-century London, courtesy of scene designer Zachary Elliot. “Last year, he did these terrific little window boxes as if they were the Scrooge and Marley accounting offices, and a bakery as if it was on the street of old London.”
The Oceanside Theatre Company is no stranger to radio shows, having already performed “A Christmas Carol” last year, as well as a radio-play version of “Miracle on 34th Street” three years ago.
The company itself is something of a more recent player in the North County theater game. In 2011, the company moved into the remains of a movie theater that sprung up in Oceanside around 1936, which itself houses a little under 200 people. The theater was converted into a stage-house in the 1990s, before undergoing renovations in the 2000s.
“Over the last three years, (the theater has) grown substantially,” Leib said, noting that its workforce was initially all volunteers, and the board began forming connections with the local community that allowed its growth. He cites a sellout show “Man of La Mancha” as being the company’s breakout hit.
Ticket prices for the show range from $15 to $29 and can be purchased at tickets.vendini.com.
Alex Wehrung covers Rancho Santa Fe and theatre-related news in North County. He previously reported for The Daily Nexus in Santa Barbara, CA and the Escondido Times-Advocate in Escondido, CA.