Janesville55°

Radio revives 'A Christmas Carol'

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Catherine W. Idzerda
November 29, 2007
— It will be an astonishing transformation.

Michael Chase, a dapper gentleman farmer from Clinton Township, a man who’s kind to children and animals, a man who used to read at the Mass for shut-ins, will become Ebenezer Scrooge.


It’s for one night only, and you can enjoy the performance at the Janesville Performing Arts Center or from the comfort of your home on WCLO, AM 1230.


At 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, JPAC is presenting a live radio broadcast of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” in partnership with the radio station.


It’s something new for JPAC and a return of the days of radio theater for WCLO.


“When we had the first reading of the show, (show director) Jim Lyke and I just looked at each other and said, ‘Wow,’” said JPAC executive director Laurel Canan. “It’s such a beautiful blend of voices.”


A big part of that “wow” is Chase’s Scrooge and Colleen Burns’ Ghost of Christmas Past.


Burns is a fixture on the Madison theater scene, both as an actress and a writer. Chase, too, is a professional actor and has a long list of stage credits. Both he and Burns have done voice-over work.


Many years ago, when Chase was a fresh young face starting in the business, he starred as lector—the guy who does the readings—for the Mass for shut-ins in Chicago’s Catholic Diocese.


“They taped it right down the hall from Bozo’s Circus,” Chase said.


But reading the New Testament is a far cry from playing the crankiest old man in classic literature.


Chase said he’s ready, and his attitude about Christmas helps.


“I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to Christmas,” Chase said.


He doesn’t care for the gross commercialization of the holiday that has turned a sacred day into an excuse to put oversized, inflatable, holiday-themed decorations all over one’s yard. That sort of thing makes him crabby.


He’s also a confirmed anglophile and a committed actor.


“It’s the role of the lifetime for an actor, a classic actors’ role, like Jesus Christ or Atticus Finch,” Chase said.


Scrooge’s transformation from mean old miser to joyful soul doesn’t happen often on stage, and it’s a pleasure for an actor to play him.


Chase’s portrayal of Scrooge is a nice blend of callous menace, emotional viciousness and constipation-related irritably.


Chase has another thing going from him, too.


“I have a good face for radio,” he said.


TO GO OR LISTEN AT HOME

What: A performance and live radio broadcast of Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol.” The show being presented by the Janesville Performing Arts Center in cooperation with WCLO.


When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. Because it’s a live radio performance, no one will be admitted after 6:30 p.m.


Where: JPAC, 408 S. Main St., Janesville.


Cost to see the show at JPAC: An anonymous donor is underwriting the show, allowing the theater to sell tickets for $5 and a canned good donation to ECHO, the local, church-supported food pantry and social services agency. All the proceeds from the show will be given to the Good Samaritan fund.


How to listen on the radio: Tune to WCLO, AM 1230. The program will be broadcast again on Christmas Eve morning. It will be available for a limited time on www.wclo.com about a week after the show.

Cast and crew: Michael Chase, Colleen Burns, Ken Regez, Ron Brown, Becky Weber-Johnson, George Kiskunas, Cindy and Luke Siebert, Tony Siebert, David and Kathleen Bitter, Dennis Vechinsky, James Lima, Sarah Lima, Mike Casey, Josh Matthews, Laurel Canan, Abigail Seefield, Carman Reinicke, Liberty Salinger and Corinne Lyke; directed by Jim Lyke.



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