Revenge? Redemption? You make the call in Majestic’s “Carol”

by | Dec 16, 2021 | Miscellaneous | 0 comments

Arlee Olsen plays Scrooge, haunted by a projection of Karen Wohlwend as the Ghost of Marley, in this scene from “Choose Your Own Carol.” The “offstage” actors are, from left to right: Rachel Kohler, Wohlwend, Aidan McWayne, Kiara McWayne, Brandon Urey and Kae McCarty. The fundraiser for the Majestic Theatre will be performed Friday and Saturday on stage, with the Friday performance livestreamed. (Photo courtesy of the Majestic Theatre.)

It’s the holiday season, that time of year that’s supposed to be about goodwill to all, but you can hardly blame Rachel Kohler for hoping that, this year at least, revenge wins the day.

Kohler, who works at the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis, is the author of “Choose Your Own Carol,” an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” that comes with a big twist or two. The production, intended as a fundraiser for the Majestic, has two endings: In one, just like in the original Dickens novella, Scrooge finds redemption.

In the other ending in “Choose Your Own Carol,” the ghosts carry out their revenge on Scrooge.

The idea is that as people make their year-end donations to the Majestic, they can select which ending they want to see. The ending that attracts the most cash wins. Last year, the first year that the Majestic performed “Choose Your Own Carol” (on Zoom, of course), redemption won out. The revenge ending never saw the light of, well, Zoom.

That sort of bummed out Kohler.

“The revenge ending – it took some time to figure out where I was going to go with it, but once we did, I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s pretty great,’” Kohler said. “I’m hopeful it wins this year.”

But if it doesn’t, audiences might still get a chance to see it.

“Choose Your Own Carol” takes the leap from Zoom to the stage at the Majestic in a pair of performances, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (See the sidebar below for ticket information and other details.)

Friday night’s show will be structured like a public TV fundraiser, Kohler said, with introductory remarks about why people should support the Majestic, followed by the first half of “Choose Your Own Carol.” During intermission, attendees can head to the box office and make donations, choosing either the revenge or the redemption ending. (The Friday night show also will be livestreamed, and online watchers will be able to donate as well.) The final numbers will be tallied and the ending that has the most financial support will be the one audiences see that night.

After all, it’s a fundraiser – and Kohler, as a Majestic employee, won’t be that ticked off if the redemption ending raises the most money.

“If redemption gets more, I’m like ‘grrrr,’ but also, the theater is getting money, so I can’t feel bad about that.”

As it turns out, though, both endings will be performed this weekend. The Saturday performance will dispense with the telethon trappings and simply perform the play – complete with both endings. Think of it, Kohler said, as a DVD version with the alternate ending included as a special feature.

Also, she said, adding the second performance gives family members and friends of the cast (which includes seven youths this year) a chance to see the show, even with the capacity of the Majestic’s Starker Auditorium reduced to allow for proper social distancing.

“Choose Your Own Carol,” originally produced in 2020, came about as the Majestic staff pondered how to stage a holiday fundraising event in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Traditionally, the theater stages a live fundraising revue, but that wasn’t going to work on Zoom, Kohler said.

Then it occurred to Kohler: “Everyone wants to watch ‘A Christmas Carol’ every year. … What if we did our own adaptation?”

Kohler got to work crafting an adaptation straight from the Dickens novella but made some changes. For starters, she modernized the piece, making Scrooge the nasty CEO of a web-based company.

Moving this year’s version of “Choose Your Own Carol” from Zoom to the Majestic’s main stage has required some creative adjustments from Kohler and Nancy Homan, who’s directing the show. “We are pretending we’re on Zoom,” Kohler said, “but we’re on stage. So we’re kind of making fun of the whole Zoom theater experience now that we have broken out of the Zoom theater experience.”

That still leaves room for some visual razzle-dazzle, and Kohler said the production will make extensive use of video projections. “It’s going to allow us to do a lot of kind of crazy stuff that is both video but also theater magic, and I love that kind of thing,” she said.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: “Choose Your Own Carol,” a fundraiser for the Majestic Theatre in Corvallis.

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 17 and Saturday, Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: The Majestic Theatre, 115 SW Second Ave. in Corvallis. The Friday show will be livestreamed on Facebook Live.

HOW MUCH: Tickets for the in-person performance are $11, $16 and $21. Click here for ticket information. Click here to learn more about the free livestream.

OF NOTE: Patrons 12 and over will be required to provide proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results from within 48 hours upon arrival at the Majestic Theatre. For test results, patrons must provide printed proof of a negative COVID-19 test. For vaccination, patrons must provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination (at least two weeks after final dose) in the form of either the original vaccination card or a printed copy of the vaccination card. For patrons over the age of 16, an appropriate ID matching the name on your documentation for patrons will be required. Click here to read more about the Majestic’s COVID precautions.

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