West T. Hill, Arts for Kids collaborate to present 'Bah, Humbug'

December 01, 2003|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Editor's Note: "Bah, Humbug" will be performed at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and Dec. 12-13 and at 3 p.m. Dec. 7 and 14 at West T. Hill Community Theatre on Larrimore Lane in Danville. Advance tickets are $8. Tickets at the door are $9. For tickets, call 859-236-1310.

A singing and dancing Scrooge? Maybe. The holiday tale "A Christmas Carol" will be brought to West T. Hill Community Theatre's in the form of "Bah, Humbug!," a musical version of the classic play written by Bill Francouer and Rebecca Ryland, a local educator.

Director Karen L. Logue says "Bah, Humbug!," a collaborative effort from Arts for Kids, ETC and WTHCT, is "simply an adaptation of Charles Dickens' great classic novel 'A Christmas Carol,' or popularly known as 'Scrooge's Christmas Carol.'"

"It is the tried and true story of an old curmudgeon, Scrooge, who hates everything about Christmas," says Logue. "We suspect as the story unfolds that he is so jaded because of his dark and sad past. His relationships growing up were distant ones at best, and as he matured, he let his work get in the way of establishing any lasting and loving friendships.


"So we find him alone in the beginning of the tale and we observe as his life takes on meaning through visitations from various spirits. Then we get to watch the great transformation as he realizes his wicked ways and tries to amend them and make up for lost time. He begins to give unconditionally, and, in turn, gets so much more out of his life. It is an enduring and inspirational tale, one that encourages even the hardest-core pessimist."

Ryland says AFKE is known for its "collaborations with other organizations, and had been seeking a partnership project with West T. Hill for some time."

"I suggested the partnership to our board and forwarded a copy of the script and music to West T. Hill artistic director Karen Logue," she explains. "Karen saw an advertisement about 'Bah, Humbug!' in a national theater magazine and contacted me back. She took the project to her board and I applied to the Kentucky Arts Council for a grant in support of the project. We were awarded the grant and the partnership went forward."

WTHCT also has collaborated with various groups over the years, Logue notes.

"This is not the first time we have participated in a collaboration, but this may be the first time we have participated in a musical collaboration," she explains. "We have worked with Kentucky School for the Deaf when we were granted a Kentucky Arts Council grant to present 'Children of a Lesser God' several years ago. We combined hearing, hard of hearing and deaf actors in a wonderful production that was successful on many levels.

"We also have participated with the Constitution Square Festival organization in performing several historical dramas over the years. We have collaborated in years past with the drama organizations at Centre College and those efforts were exciting and well worth the participation."

WTHCT also has worked with Community Education the past three years on a mystery dinner theater in the spring, Logue notes.

It is the first time for AFKE and WTHCT to collaborate, Logue says, although the organizations have "traded performers" on occasion.

"Rebecca Ryland, founder of Arts for Kids, ETC, and I have talked for some time about doing something together and "Bah, Humbug!" seemed to be the right vehicle at the right time," she explains. "We ironed out the logistics with both sets of boards of directors, and here we are, ready to showcase Rebecca's very own work. I know she is very proud and very excited about this production, as am I."

Ryland collaborated with composer/arranger Bill Francouer before she began working with Logue.

"(That) collaboration was established through Pioneer Drama Service," Ryland explains. "Pioneer Drama Service contacted me about my script adaptation of Dickens' classic 'A Christmas Carol,' which I had written for an Arts for Kids, ETC production. That production only contained the carols that are included in "Bah, Humbug!" and Pioneer wanted to publish a new musical version to replace one they carried through another publisher.

"Bill's writer-collaborator had recently passed away and they thought we would make a good team. He was well-established and it was an excellent opportunity for me. I agreed to the changes and 'Bah, Humbug!' was born."

She says she finds the music of "Bah, Humbug!" "absolutely delightful."

"And the lyrics Bill added truly enhance the depth and expression of the original story," she adds.

Adds Logue, "I also like the original music. It is cheerful and very catchy - toe-tapping tunes that lift my spirits at each rehearsal. There are a couple of ballads that are deeply touching as well. The lyrics are amazingly creative and tell a story all their own."

Ryland says Francouer and she also worked on another project.

"We have since collaborated on a second musical, 'Babes in Toyland,' and the two musicals have stayed on Pioneer's top-selling list since publication."

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