Wicked Local - Norwood Transcript and Bulletin
November 18, 2010

Norwood student actors get into the spirit of the holidays

By Chloe Gotsis/Wicked Local Norwood staff
Norwood Transcript and Bulletin

There's nothing like the tale of an angry, skeptical ghost to get into the holiday spirit of kindness and forgiveness.

Just ask the cast and crew of the Norwood High School drama department's production of "Marley's Ghost," which premieres this weekend. The play by Jeff Goode is the prequel to Charles Dickens' novella "A Christmas Carol" and chronicles the infamous Jacob Marley's character from his death to his haunting of the crotchety old Ebenezer Scrooge. Director John Quinn described the play as a darkly comical answer to what happened to Jacob Marley.

"It kind of mirrors but deepens some of the same messages about forgiving and kindness that 'A Christmas Carol' does but from a different perspective," said Quinn, who is in his 14th year as drama teacher at the high school. "It's just really funny writing."

The two-hour play will feature about 30 Norwood kids of all ages portraying characters in London's 1830s and 1850s. But because Quinn said the play is double casted and will feature many children playing different roles over the course of four nights, audience members can return a second time and find a completely different play.

Quinn was set on producing another drama this fall but changed his mind after his students requested they put on Goode's new play. Quinn read the play last year with his students in class and he said his students really enjoyed the writing and familiarity of the characters.

"(Goode) actually borrows some of the scenes from 'A Christmas Carol,'" he said about the author, who is the writer behind the pilot of MTV's '90s hit "Undressed."

"So, I think they liked how he was able to find a bridge and match that contemporary feel."

Goode's play reminds fans of Dickens' selfish and mean-spirited main characters when it opens with Marley's funeral, where Scrooge, his former business partner, is the only one in attendance.

As is typical of Scrooge, who lived his life mistreating the poor and building his wealth, he refuses to pay for his partner's funeral after the price he is quoted by the minister goes up.

Marley's body remains on the stage unburied, said Quinn.

"That really sets the tone for what this play is about and what we're going to learn about how these two guys, Scrooge and Marley, are pretty bad, self-centered guys," said Quinn.

Largely set in the afterlife, the play is a more minimalist performance for the school after its elaborate September musical, "Sweeney Todd." The story will be followed up next month when the students perform "A Christmas Carol."

The play largely focuses on the characters and their performances, said Quinn, and he recommends that for anyone who enjoys minimalist plays.

"It's a holiday story," he said.

Performances are Nov. 18, 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, Nov. 21, at 2 p.m. at the Savage Educational Center, 275 Prospect St., Norwood. Tickets are $5 for the general public and $4 for students and seniors and can be purchased at the door. For further information, please contact the Norwood Fine Arts Department at 781-769-2333.

Staff writer Chloe Gotsis can be reached at 781-433-8339 or at cgotsis@cnc.com.