When the curtain rises on Franklin Performing Arts Company's presentation of Humbug!, several local families will share the stage. Humbug! is FPAC's contemporary retelling of the Charles Dickens holiday classic, A Christmas Carol.
The original musical adaptation was conceived and written by Franklin's Nick Paone, who also co-directs the production and portrays the lead character of Scrooge. Thirteen sets of parents and their children are part of the large ensemble cast of 150 professional artists, amateur performers and students of the arts who will bring Paone's fresh interpretation of Dickens' work to the stage. Notes FPAC Executive Director Raye Lynn Mercer, "We strive to provide families with the chance to connect through the arts and we are proud of the scores of families from the region who share memorable auditions, rehearsals, and time on stage together in our productions."
From Franklin, Laura Mandia and her children are veterans of numerous FPAC productions, including several Humbug! presentations. This season Laura will perform in the ensemble, while daughter Melissa, age 18, is cast as Belle and son Gary, age 9, as the Christmas Shoes Boy. "This is my daughter's fourth year in the show, my son's second turn, and my third," explains Laura. "It has been a wonderful experience to be together on stage performing for an audience that also includes our family and friends. It's also a fantastic opportunity to be part of a cast led by a team of talented directors and accompanied by such accomplished musicians."
That sentiment is echoed by Guy Rezendes, also of Franklin. Guy performs the role of Mr. Fezziwig, while his twin daughters, Hannah and Madison, age 10, are in the Chain Gang and Thriller ensembles. "These years go by so fast as a father. Being able to spend quality time with my daughters on stage and be a part of their rehearsal experience and life experience is a no-brainer," says Guy. "I was not at all involved in the arts before we started a family. Now, it's such a huge part of our lives. I still find plenty of time to be a huge sports fan - just in between rehearsals!"
Hannah and Madison, whose grandfather, Steve Crowley, also performs in Humbug!, say it's a lot of fun having other family members in the show. The sisters like watching their father onstage and think the role of Mr. Fezziwig is a perfect part for him. "He's funny," they both say.
Other parents and their children performing in Humbug! this season include Abbey and Amy Citarell of Norfolk, as well as the following Franklin families: Jason, Ken and Lily Barney; Claire and Jenny Bauer;; Kendra and Laura Dombroski; Emily and Greg Dutton; Charley and Phoebe Eastman; Brandon, Colin and Graham Hancock; Ed, Jocelyn and Wendy Jones; Debra and Shane Packard; Cassidy, Chuck and Mackenzie Peters; and Emily and Mike Whalen.
A family favorite since debuting as part of FPAC's 2008-09 season, Humbug! features Dickens' familiar characters and storyline, but re-imagines the allegorical tale in contemporary America for a modern audience. The 2012 production returns with updated references to current events and pop culture so it is unpredictably fresh and timely. The storyline is supported by musical hits of many genres with live accompaniment by a 10-piece band of professional musicians.
Humbug! will be performed today, December 15 at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m. and on Sunday, December 16, at 2 p.m. at the Thomas D. Mercer Auditorium, 224 Oak Street, in Franklin. Raye Lynn Mercer co-directs the production, with musical direction by Hallie Wetzell, choreography by Kellie Stamp, Mercer and Paone, and costuming and production coordination by Tracy Lane. Tickets for FPAC's Humbug! cost $30, $28, and $26 and may be purchased in advance at the FPAC Box Office (34 Main Street, Franklin), through online ticketing at www.fpaconline.com, or by phone at 508-528-8668. Remaining tickets will be sold at the door.