Classic tale takes the stage

Josh King, as Scrooge, looks perplexed as he watches the Cratchit family make a toast in his honor during a rehearsal of the scene with the Ghost of Christmas Present from "A Christmas Carol" at Pendleton High School.<br><i>Staff photo by Tammy Malgesini</i>

With a desire to direct a large cast production to increase interest in The Pendleton Players, which has historically produced talented thespians, drama instructor John Remington chose the Patrick Page adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol."

The time-honored tale of redemption will open Thursday at 7 p.m., in the Pendleton High School auditorium.

"I love this story and I know it's told a lot, but it's such a powerful piece," Remington said.

Motivated in getting younger students excited about theater, Remington even pulled kids from the hallways and pushed them on stage.

"There are lots of first-time kids and upper- classmen who have never been in acting class. And they're doing great."

The excitement seems to be contagious.

"I think 'A Christmas Carol' is a really great story. It's utterly awesome and so much fun," said Fatima Machado, who plays the Ghost of Jacob Marley.

Additional performances are Friday, Saturday and Dec. 17-19. Tickets are $6 each and can be purchased at the door. For special family rates, call 541-966-3839.

Returning to the Pendleton High School stage is Josh King, a 1999 graduate, who will play the part of Ebenezer Scrooge.

"I wanted to bring in a real strong Scrooge ... he's been magnificent and a great role model for the kids," Remington said. "He's a professional in the truest sense of the word."

"I really couldn't pass up Scrooge," King said.

Playing opposite the cold curmudgeon, as Belle, Alexi Leonard called it "an honor to share the stage with" King.

Remington also sang praises about Deven Jennings as young Scrooge. Although this is Jennings' first pure acting performance at Pendleton, the senior is no stranger to the stage. Jennings brought home a national championship in solo musical theater this past summer.

Additionally, Remington applauded Leonard's dual performances. In addition to her role as Belle, the talented senior will also play the Ghost of Christmas Past.

Along with Jennings, Leonard has performed on the big stage. After scoring high enough in the duo dramatic category with Claudia Ramirez during the Oregon State Thespian Conference last spring, the pair earned an opportunity to perform at this past summer's International Thespian Festival.

Leonard called "A Christmas Carol" one of her favorite plays. She's enjoyed working with a large cast, saying everyone brings their "A game" to rehearsals.

Another big stage presence, literally, is Ryan Townsend.

"Ryan Townsend - all of 6'4" - he creates that larger than life thing for the Ghost of Christmas Present," Remington said.

One of his all-time favorite books, Townsend was thrilled to be a part of the production.

"I really love this play - being this person, who in no way I'm like in life - all loud and proud," he said.

"I think we all act at a high level. It's all a team effort," Machado added.

King and Leonard pointed to Remington's leadership for the play and the drama program's success.

"He always puts a lot into the performances," Leonard said.

"Remington is very good at getting physical actors. Everyone in this cast is very good in projecting feelings through words to the audience," King added.

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