Saanich actor debuts in Belfry Christmas Carol

Claremont student will play eldest of the Cratchit siblings

Martha Cratchit (played by Lauren Alberico), second from left, puts on a smiling face during Christmas dinner with the Cratchit family in the Belfry’s A Christmas Carol.

Claremont secondary student Lauren Alberico is stepping back in time for her first professional acting role in the Belfry’s A Christmas Carol.

Alberico, 16, is playing Martha Cratchit, the eldest of the Cratchit siblings.

The Belfry is reprising its 2012 production of A Christmas Carol, returning  nine of the 14 cast members.

Among the four Cratchit children, only Peter, played by Ajay Parikh-Friese of St. Michaels University School, is returning.

Alberico joins her second-oldest sibling, Belinda (11-year-old Abby Baker of Central Middle school) and the lovable Tiny Tim (seven-year-old Kyle Atlas Stahl of George Jay elementary), around the Cratchit dinner table.

“Martha is about 15 years old, she goes off to work and provides for the family and comes home for Christmas,” Alberico explains.

Last week rehearsals ran on a daily schedule, after school for Alberico and her fellow student actors, with full days on the weekend.

Theatre teacher Colin Plant had posted the Belfry call for auditions on the class Facebook page earlier in the fall that led to Alberico winning the role. She actually auditioned for Belinda but was called back for Martha.

Alberico actually replaces Parikh-Friese’s (Peter) elder sister, Amisha, in the role of Martha.

“[Martha’s] not the biggest character. I’m honoured to get it, it’s a good starting point for an acting career, I’m very thankful,” said Alberico, who’s been studying musical theatre since she was seven and has performed in several children’s productions at the Mary Winspear Centre in Sidney.

“The whole family loves each other, and the whole play is about love. [Martha] always keeps [the Cratchits] smiling safe. They’re always poor, always worried.”

It’s been 25 years since Belfry artistic director Michael Shamata started from scratch for his stage adaptation based on the Charles Dickens novella.

Amongst the “adult” cast, only Geoffrey Ewert as Scrooge’s nephew Fred, and Anton Lipovetsky as Bob Cratchit, are new. Returning are Tom McBeath as Ebenezer Scrooge and Gerry Mackay as Jacob Marley, John Han (Spirit), Jessica Hickman (Spirit), Brian Linds (Mr. Fezziwig), Amanda Lisman (Belle), Celine Stubel (Mrs. Cratchit) and Jan Wood (Mrs. Fezziwig).

The Belfry’s A Christmas Carol follows the stage adaptation Michael Shamata originally did as the artistic director at Theatre New Brunswick in 1990. It’s since been done by other companies across the country including Soulpepper Theatre in Toronto, which runs the production every second year.

Tickets for A Christmas Carol range from $24 to $53, available online at tickets.belfry.bc.ca or by calling 250-385-6815.

The show is recommended for children ages six and up. Tickets for elementary and high school students are half price, and for university and college students are 25 per cent off.

 

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