Commonweal puts its unique spin on classic Christmas play

2012-11-18T00:15:00Z Commonweal puts its unique spin on classic Christmas playBy GERI PARLIN | Winona Daily News

LANESBORO, Minn. — The Commonweal Theatre Company presents its own distinctive version of “A Christmas Carol” Nov. 23 through Dec. 23.

First developed by the Commonweal Theatre Company in 1999, the theater takes a minimalist approach to the tale.

“This is such a wonderful part of the Christmas tradition for so many,” said director Scott Dixon, “and this year, we’re excited to bring a brand-new re-imagining to the stage — a Victorian fantasy to underscore Scrooge’s journey to reconnect with his own humanity. The message for me in this story is that it’s never too late for healing, never too late for forgiveness.”

Jeremy van Meter, who is playing Scrooge, said he won’t play him as an elderly man looking back on his life as most productions do. Instead, he is Scrooge at 45, still looking back at his mistakes but also able to look forward with time to transform his life.

“It’s a lot of narrative, four actors who do most of the narration, and they also play characters within the story. Also, we’ve hired four younger actors, from 10 to 14.”

By playing Scrooge as a younger man, Van Meter said, “It really makes everything more immediate. The thing Scott Dixon and I decided early on is that we weren’t going to age Scrooge at all. That makes Scrooge 45 years old. It makes everything that he sees much more immediate for him. The loss of Belle, the woman he loved, that’s not something he’s seeing as a 70-year-old,” Van Meter said. “It happened eight or nine years ago. Seeing her move on and have a child, that pain is more intense. It brings about a more transformative change.”

Van Meter said this adaptation captures the spirit of Commonweal.

“It’s not a big spectacle. It’s more the human side of this story.”

As popular as “A Christmas Carol” is at theaters all across the country, Van Meter said, this is his first time performing in a production.

“To play the man himself the first time, it’s challenging and it’s also humbling. It’s one of those stories that everybody knows how it ends, but it is one of those things where you’re watching someone make a life change right in front of you,” Van Meter said. “For this Scrooge, it’s making a life change when he still has so much of his life to live. It’s seeing someone get a second chance and a new lease on life. I think that’s important. Not everybody gets the chance or allows themselves the chance to do that. It’s redemptive that way.”

Copyright 2015 Winona Daily News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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