Our granddaughter Alex got off work in Puyallup and drove to our home in North Tacoma. We’ve long enjoyed sharing theater productions with our grandchildren. This was a cold day in Pierce County with black ice on the driveway and lots of snow still on the ground with a fierce wind blowing all warmth away. Soon Alex was driving Peg and me to Lakewood to see Lakewood Playhouse’s performance of Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol by Tom Mula.
We arrived at the theater with a little over five minutes to spare before curtain time . . . actually there is no curtain. With popcorn and a couple of cookies we found our seats and took the time to look around. There have been changes: all the old seats that look down the throat of the stage are gone. Replacing them are Dark Irish Green plush seats including a gold edge on the backs of each chair. This gives a nice rich feel to the theater. The old folding chairs on either side of the stage are also gone and replaced with the new green chairs. There was no back of the stage. It now has a similar configuration of seats for a nice rich look and feel.
Our seats were perfect. We enjoy sitting on the wings, which have given us great views of the actors and the action. Managing Artistic Director Scott Campbell welcomed us all and explained about the changes, the excellent donations the theatre received as well as recognition and funding. The plan is to offer “in the round” productions, where the audience surrounds the stage. This gives the audience a chance to observe much more of the action.
Sometimes plans don’t always work out . . . especially when 75% of the actors become ill. The play was postponed, twice I think, but in true theater production spirit Jacob Marley’s Christmas Carol finally opened. The more the play was postponed, the fewer days were left in the Christmas season. The show we saw, on December 21st, was the final production for the year. Normally, Peg and I will either see the final dress rehearsal, or at least the first weekend of the production. This gives us opportunity to share our thoughts on each show and encourage everyone to attend and enjoy. This review will certainly not produce any more ticket sales for Jacob Marley, but we think people will enjoy the following shows coming up in 2023.
Director Scott Campbell did a wonderful job. He has high praise for his actors, and they seem to have high praise for him, which is always a good sign. In a four person production, you best have faith in their work and their connections to the audience. Frank Thompson (Marley), Joe Woodland (Record Keeper), and Glenn Guhr (Scrooge) are all well seasoned. They delivered soundly. Young Lesley Gordon (Bogle) acted in high school and graduated from Western Washington University. Lesley held her own with the experienced actors. Her smile and delivery amidst the fear and dread of eternal damnation for two of the characters, she kept everyone’s spirit engaged.
The in-the-round production was interesting with boxes circling a larger platform. Some boxes were one step up, and some two steps up. Business suits and Scrooges nightwear were the clothing of the males, while Gordon as the Bogle gave us the look and feel of someone wearing a warm wool suit with their hands in their pockets like a well dressed Victorian lad perhaps offering a tip or two for a local bet.
The message of the play is that change is possible, especially with good friends . . . this could be the message of the Lakewood Playhouse itself. We look forward to 2023 and their next productions.
For more information about Lakewood Playhouse, please visit: lakewoodplayhouse.org/