Familiar story, different spin

  • Photo courtesy Suzi Bond — Scrooge (Joel Kelley) and Marley (Stephen Bond) watch as the other ghosts entertain.
  • Photo Courtesy Suzi Bond — Tiny Tim (Travis Wood), Bob Cratchit (Stephen Bond), and Scrooge (Joel Kelley) in a scene from "A Gilbert & Sullivan Christmas Carol"
  • Photo courtesy Suzi Bond — The Cratchit family celebrate Christmas dinner. Clockwise from bottom left Bob Cratchit (Stephen Bond), Tiny Tim (Travis Wood), Aunt Esther (Jess Lawrence), Uncle Tim (Mike Meyer), and Mrs Cratchit (Ariana Kelley).
  • Photo courtesy Suzi Bond — Young Scrooge (Murphy Bierman) and Young Marley (Stephen Bond) hatch a plan to start their own firm
  • Photo courtesy Suzi Bond — Belle (Ariana Kelley) and Young Scrooge (Murphy Bierman) party with Mrs and Mr Fezziweg (Jess Lawrence, Dick Hershberger)

The first production at Kilauea Military Camp’s Kilauea Theater since the Kilauea eruption will be a familiar story with an unusual twist.

The Kilauea Drama and Entertainment Network will present “A Gilbert &Sullivan Christmas Carol” for two weekends in December, retelling Charles Dickens’ classic 1843 novella with songs based on the 19th Century comic operas of William S. Gilbert and Arthur P. Sullivan.

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“It’s the same story, but it’s a lot more lighthearted,” said director Suzi Bond. “It’s not as gloomy and sad as the original Christmas Carol.”

The production rewrites classic songs such as “Pirates of Penzance’s” “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General” into new musical numbers with the same melodies — “Modern Major General” is transformed into “I Am the Very Model of a Mystic Supernatural,” sung by Marley’s Ghost. At least one song from each of Gilbert and Sullivan’s 14 operas is thus rewritten into the play’s 16 musical numbers.

“The guy in New York spent way too long writing this,” Bond joked, referring to the script’s author, Gayden Wren, who published the script in 1994. “I’m a Gilbert and Sullivan nut, so when I found out about it I knew we’d have to do it,” Bond said.

Bond admitted the play can be hard to describe, particularly to people less familiar with the Gilbert and Sullivan oeuvre than she.

“All I know is that people liked it last year and they said they’d see it again,” Bond said.

This will be KDEN’s second year producing “A Gilbert &Sullivan Christmas Carol,” after the group presented the play for four showings last year.

Bond said repeating the play is partially to allow more people to see the performance, but also because the Kilauea eruption disrupted KDEN’s operations.

While KDEN usually performs at KMC’s Kilauea Theater, the volcanic eruption forced the group to hold their summer production of “Oliver!” at UH Hilo, which Bond said was significantly more expensive than the group’s typical performances.

In order to recoup expenses, Bond said it was an economical choice to use a play with existing sets that about 75 percent of the cast was already familiar with.

That cast, however, was “thrilled” to return to Kilauea Theater after the reopening of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where the theater is located. The theater and the camp sustained minimal damage from the thousands of earthquakes that rocked the park during the eruption.

“There’s this incredible feeling of being home,” Bond said.

Performances of “A Gilbert &Sullivan Christmas Carol” will held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, Dec. 21 and 22 and at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday and Dec. 23.

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Tickets will be $20 for general admission, $15 for senior citizens and students at $12 for children under 12. Bond warned that park entrance fees may apply.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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