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With Stage Reading, a Christmas Classic Comes to Coleman

November 30, 2017

Faculty and staff at St. John Fisher College will trade PowerPoints for stage props as they present a reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1, in Coleman Chapel in Murphy Hall.

Fisher faculty and staff rehearse for the stage reading of A Christmas Carol.

Admission to the reading is free, but donations are being accepted for the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network, which helps homeless families by providing food, shelter, and case management through the work of volunteers, as well as the contributions of congregants and spaces of participating religious institutions.

Directed by Jeremy Sarachan, chair and associate professor in the Department of Media and Communication, the show features a dynamic staging (and authentic Christmas carols).

Sarachan chose the novella for the reading because of its notoriety and relevance.

“A Christmas Carol deals with poverty, lack of available health care, labor issues, work-life balance, and just being kind,” he said. “Those are quite relevant to the 21st century.”

The story also lends itself well to stage reading because with the omission of obvious aspects of a theater production—sets, for example—performing a play the audience is familiar with helps fill in the missing details.

Despite the trimmed down production, Sarachan said audiences shouldn’t expect a traditional reading where the cast simply stands and read lines.

“Our production is going to be fun and active. We also have a choir interspersed throughout the show,” he said. “This is a chance for Fisher students to see professors outside of the classroom in a way they've never seen them before, and share the holiday spirit.”

The cast includes Greg Cunningham (biology) as Ebenezer Scrooge; Ann Marie Fallon (dean, School of Arts and Sciences) as the Ghost of Christmas Past; Melissa Bissonette (English) as the Ghost of Christmas Present; Katrina Arndt (education) as the Ghost of Christmas Future; Bill Waddell (English) as Jacob Marley; and Clair Smith (economics) as Bob Cratchit.

Playing a multitude of roles are Terri Bagshaw (records and registration coordinator, Registrar's Office); Dougie Bicket (media and communication); Rick DeJesus-Rueff (Office of Campus Ministry); Lynn Donahue (director, Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement); Lafayette Eaton (chemistry); Kathi Gunio (marketing assistant, Wegmans School of Nursing); Chris Keffer (coordinator of transfer and adult services, Academic Affairs); Lauren Kocman (economics); Melissa Jadlos (director,  Lavery Library); Barbara Lowe (associate professor and director, First-Year Programs in the School of Arts and Sciences); Jen Pluretti (director, candidate advisement and services in the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. School of Education); Susan Read (nursing); and Jill Swiencicki (English).

Sarachan said the cast’s wide range of theater experience only adds to the production’s charm.

“I think the process of theater creation is especially interesting when you combine experienced performers and those without much previous time on stage,” he explained. “It makes the work more real, while allowing everyone to enjoy the act of performance. Such activity shouldn’t only be for professionals or even experienced amateurs. That said, when people are really committed, it’s amazing what you can produce, regardless of previous experience.”