A Classic Story: Warren Players Begin Rehearsing For Musical

From left, Ryder Check and Emily Koebly audition for the Warren Players production of “A Christmas Carol The Musical” to be held over Thanksgiving weekend. P-J photo by Michael Zabrodsky

WARREN, Pa. — Jen Check spends a lot of time on stage.

She prefers it that way.

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She grew up watching theater with her parents. That’s where she got the inspiration to be an actor and to be a director.

Recently, she was holding auditions at the First Lutheran Church for the Warren Players production of “A Christmas Carol The Musical” to be held over Thanksgiving weekend.

“This show just has a special place in my heart,” Check said. “Eighteen years ago was the first time we did it. My dad was actually directing. However, two weeks before we opened, the man that was playing Scrooge ended up unable to do the role. And we searched for about four days, and I kept saying, ‘Dad, you’re an old man. And you know, you can sing. You’ve done theater your whole life.’ And he kept saying ‘no, no.’ Well, he did go on stage,” Check said.

Check loves directing because she of the mental pictures that can be created.

“Just being able to have all that creativity and to be able to tell a story,” Check added. “I think that I just love good musical where you stop and sing a song in the middle of it.”

Check is a teacher at Sheffield Area Elementary School.

And to help Check with making sure everything works in the production is orchestra director Marcia White.

White is looking to fill pit orchestra positions as the “A Christmas Carol The Musical” will not use a pre-recorded soundtrack.

“I’m looking for really, really good players. And, you know, anybody that plays a stringed instrument, we need those. … There’s a lot of percussion. There’s a lot of pretty much everything I need – almost a full orchestra,” White said.

The orchestra director said the music is intense and she needs good players who can cover the parts.

“So I’m looking for upper high school, and probably college and adult players,” White said.

White teaches band and orchestra classes and Beaty-Warren Middle School.

“Once we fill all the parts, I really think it’s going to come together pretty easily. The music is written so beautifully,” White said.

Check said when directing, she likes having a live orchestra rather than pre-recorded tracks.

Her favorite part is when the orchestra plays the concert A tuning pitch just before the light go down and the curtain goes up.

“I grew up in the theater, and seeing live theater, and my daughters will tell you, my very favorite part of any live production and I am a weirdo is the tuning of the orchestra when they start tuning up,” Check said. “That means the show’s going to start.”

Check said that with live music in a musical is reassuring because there is a connection with the conductor.

“Marcia’s Amazing,” Check said.

“A Christmas Carol the Musical” was last produced in Warren in 2013.

“It is not only a classic Christmas story, but the music is also beautiful, the message is timeless, and the feeling you get from this show is the perfect way to kick off the Christmas season,” Check added.

“A Christmas Carol the Musical” was originally presented at New York City’s Theater at Madison Square Garden each year from December 1, 1994, to December 27, 2003.

This adaptation was based on Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella and written for the stage by Mike Ockrent and Lynn Ahrens with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. A movie version was produced in 2004 starring Kelsey Grammer.


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