College Presence Enlivens Holiday Classic at CTL

Published 12.12.2009

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Bob Cratchit, portrayed by Pennsylvania College of Technology faculty member Jeff J. Vetock, sings to his 'Christmas Children%3A' Tiny Tim (Levi Roush) and Kathy (Jordan Kelley). In a gathering as diverse and colorful as any holiday get-together, members of the Penn College familyare putting their distinct spin on a yuletide standard taking part in the Community Theatre League's production of "Scrooge! The Musical."

The show, a tuneful retelling of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," opened Dec. 10 and will continue at 7:30 nightly Dec. 17-19 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 20 at the 100 W. Third St. theater in downtown Williamsport.

Among the cast members are Jeff J. Vetock, assistant professor of English-composition, as Bob Cratchit, Ebenezer Scrooge's loyal (yet woefully underpaid) clerk; and Timothy J.Mallery, assistant director of residence life, as Jonathan Jollygoode, trying to wheedle a charitable donation from the storied skinflint.

The on-stage ensemble additionally features 2002 graduates Keith A. Wagner (computer information technology: data communications and networking concentration) as Jacob Marley, whose back-from-the-grave visit heralds the redemptive arrival of three spirits; and Nicholas I. Buckman (mass communications) in dual roles as festive Fezziwig and as Hugo Harty, Jollygoode's partner.

Scrooge is solicited by Jollygoode (Penn College employee Timothy J. Mallery, center) and Harty (2002 graduate Nicholas I. Buckman).Also volunteering their time and talents are Pat M. Scheib, academic skills specialist at the college, who serves as production manager; Debra Q.Bechtel, program specialist in human services, stage manager; and Randall K. Curry, audio/visual specialist, props master.

"Randy continues to earn a reputation for creating amazing one-of-a kind props for us," Scheib said. "Last season (for 'Cinderella'), he created a giant ham and a pheasant pie. For "˜Scrooge,' he crafted such things as Scrooge's giant chain, a huge turkey, a toy merry-go-round and numerous smaller items that had to look authentic to the Dickens era."

"Scrooge" is the third CTLshow on which Curry has worked, and he said he hopes to continue "creating weird and wonderful things" for future productions.

"I have been building props and unique set pieces for more than 25 years. I have been asked to build everything from the 'Audrey II' plants in "'Little Shop of Horrors' to the lab equipment in 'Frankenstein,'" he said. "For 10 years, I specialized in building props for the haunted-attraction industry. Many of my props are still being used at the Six Flags amusement parks and Universal Studios Hollywood and Orlando."

With a troupe of 32 actors – many of them children and young adults – Scheib said the cast and crew really appreciated the humor, organization and interpersonal skills that Bechtel brought to every rehearsal.

"I have always enjoyed attending shows at the Community Theatre League, but have never been involved behind the scenes," Bechtel said. "I must honestly say that, when I was first asked to consider helping stage-manage 'Scrooge,' I didn't even know what the stage manager did. In my ignorance, I also did not realize what a big show 'Scrooge' is. Perhaps if I had known, I would have turned down the offer and missed this wonderful opportunity.

"It has been an incredible experience from auditions to opening night. The audience is in for a wonderful evening being entertained by a great group of people," she added. "I would also highly recommend to anyone with some free time to get involved with CTL. I have met many people and have enjoyed working with each person to put on this show for the community."

Ebenezer Scrooge (Stephen Furey) is visited by the prescient spirit of Jacob Marley (IT alumnus Keith A. Wagner), wearing the ponderous chains he forged in life.Scheib and her entire family are involved with "Scrooge." Her son, James R. Carpenter, a 2007 Penn College graduate in computer information technology: internetworking application development concentration, is the show's lighting designer, and his wife, Jessica, doubles as choreographer and cast member. Younger son Stefen Scheib, most recently on stage in "Cinderella," was a set artist and is part of the show's stage crew.

Making his debut on this production is college alumnus/employee Josh D. Young, a learning systems administrator in instructional technology/distance learning, who is helping with scene changes and special effects; and Jamie R. Hilton, a pre-nursing major with stage-management experience on her community-theater resume, is on the prop crew.

The show is directed by Kyle Wilson, son of Tom Wilson, a writer-editor in Penn College's news bureau. A senior at South Williamsport Area Jr.-Sr. High School who already is a seasoned actor/director/playwright, he is the first teenager to direct a mainstage musical in CTL's 33-year history.

The college connection to the Community Theatre League will continue into the new year; the institution is sponsoring a production of "The Cemetery Club" at 7:30 p.m. March 5-6 and 11-13 and at 2 p.m. March 14.

Photos by Robyn L. Richards, Community Theatre League