In re-imagining the holiday classic A Christmas Carol, the Franklin Performing Arts Company (FPAC) transports audiences from Dickensian England to contemporary America. FPAC's presentation of the family musical HUMBUG! features Dickens' familiar characters and storyline, but with a modern setting and dialogue. The production also showcases musical hits of many genres with live accompaniment by a 10-piece band of professional musicians. Franklin's Nick Paone penned FPAC's musical adaptation and portrays the character of Scrooge. He also codirects the production with FPAC Executive Director Raye Lynn Mercer. From 16 area communities, a talented ensemble cast of 150 professional artists, amateur performers, families and students of the arts will bring Paone's fresh interpretation of Dickens' work to the stage.
For Paone, Dickens' story of human redemption offers relevant lessons for modern times. Dickens championed the poor and disadvantaged and his notion that society has an obligation to aid and protect those most vulnerable is a timeless theme. Paone notes that principles of generosity and humanity are important themes of the holiday season, making the musical especially noteworthy at this time of year.
As Scrooge embarks on his transformative journey, he faces his nighttime visitors with unexpected twists and hilarious turns along the way. Paone's script includes updated references to current events and pop culture so it retains an unpredictable timeliness and freshness. The satire is so current it reflects the news of the day, right up through the week of production. HUMBUG! audiences can expect to hear Scrooge's opinion of the 2012 presidential election and the looming "fiscal cliff."
The plot-line is supported by an entertaining and accessible score that includes creative treatments of Broadway and pop hits ranging from Duke Ellington and The Beatles to Michael Jackson and Adele. Paone notes, "We were able to look at the entire canon of music history and pick songs suited to each moment of the show. Every person in the audience, whether they're 5 years old or 105, will recognize at least one song."
An Equity actor, Paone teaches acting and musical theater at the Franklin School for the Performing Arts. He describes how his many years teaching the craft informs his writing, enabling him to understand the vernacular of children when creating scenes for younger age groups. Paone notes that Dickens' work has many distinct scenes that presented opportunities to build an extensive number of ensemble roles for children and teens. Many of Paone's students will share the stage with their teacher in FPAC's HUMBUG! production, offering the chance to work together in a collaborative and creative theater performance experience. Ali Funkhouser, who performs the role of Frederique, Scrooge's niece, says of Paone, "It is interesting to see him apply the techniques that he teaches in class to his own acting. He has so much energy and talent. I can absorb that and take that on in my own performance. It's another way he teaches me." Adds Raye Lynn Mercer, "We are incredibly fortunate to have Nick here in Franklin. The performances of an actor of his caliber offer a unique treat for our FPAC audiences and an ongoing acting lesson for our young performers."
FPAC's HUMBUG! will be performed on Saturday, December 15 at 2:00 and 7:30 pm and on Sunday, December 16, at 2 pm. at the Thomas D. Mercer Auditorium, 224 Oak Street, in Franklin. Tickets cost $30, $28, and $26 and may be purchased at the FPAC Box Office (34 Main Street, Franklin), through online ticketing at www.fpaconline.com, or by phone at 508-528-8668. Big Y World Class Markets is the performance sponsor for the Sunday matinee of HUMBUG! Northern Trust is a costumes sponsor for the production.