Thornhill, Ont.’s St. Elizabeth High School took a comedic run at Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol this year. The school presented a modern-day version of the classic, Bah, Humbug. Photo courtesy of St. Elizabeth High School

Students bring out the best in Scrooge tale

  • December 23, 2017
It is the classic tale of redemption — Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

But that’s no reason it can’t be fun, too.

On Dec. 7, students at St. Elizabeth High School in Thornhill, Ont., took the tale to heart with their modern, comedic version of the Dickens story called Bah, Humbug. It is similar to the much-loved and much-told story of the transformation of cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge, except in the Bah, Humbug version, Tiny Tim is a menace and musical numbers are set to the tune of 1980s rock songs.

Roksolana Jaworskyj, a drama teacher at St. Elizabeth and director of the play, likens the production to the musical pantomime shows put on by Canadian producer Ross Petty.

“It is similar to that in the sense that it is like a fractured fairy tale,” she said. “It’s a musical with a modern, comedic twist on the story we all know.”

Buried under the music and comedy, though, is message that is true to the school’s mission.

“One of the reasons we chose it is because of those overarching themes of redemption, goodness and generosity that also happen to be core Catholic values,” said Jaworskyj. “There are so many wonderful examples of redemption at Christmas time. Even The Grinch is a story about redemption.”

In this version of the Dickens tale, Scrooge, played by Grade 12 student Christian Schetis, is redeemed to the tune of “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

“When Scrooge is at the gravesite and sees his future if he continues on that path, that shock and thought process is put into song,” said Henrito Palomo, a Grade 12 student who played Bob Cratchit. “That’s the moment he changes.”

Bah, Humbug was originally written as a British pantomime by Tina and Robert Burbidge. It has been performed as a musical and as a play across the world. The musical combines theatrical themes of improvisation and slapstick humour making no one performance identical to another.

Jaworskyj found the script last year and liked it immediately.

“We started auditions in September and have been working on it ever since,” she said.

In the weeks leading up to the show, the actors rehearsed every day, sometimes up to four hours.

For Grade 12 student, Kaitlyn Bolarinho, who plays Tiny Tim, it was a chance to show a different side of the character everyone knows and loves.

“In the original, Tiny Tim is so sweet and innocent and he dies in the end,” said Bolarinho. “In this version, he’s got attitude. He’s sweet around his family but he is mischievous when they’re not looking. And instead of dying, he gets sent to prison in the end.”

The performance also showcases work from other students at the school, which is home to the York Region’s regional arts program. Visual arts students painted the backdrops, including a detailed London streetscape, and a live orchestra provided music and dancers from the dance program.

“It’s also about families and fun,” said Jaworskyj. “We want families in the audience to have fun when they are watching.”

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