Greencastle native follows ‘A Christmas Carol’ to Gettysburg

— By PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
Jackie Rebok portrayed Belinda Cratchit in the 1990 production of “A Christmas Carol”.

Just when you think there can't be anything new for the classic seasonal play “A Christmas Carol”, there is. Totem Pole Playhouse this year has moved its production to Majestic Theater at Gettysburg College. And someone who has been part of the cast and crew for 12 years is in the middle of the changes.

Jackie Rebok, a 1998 graduate of Greencastle-Antrim High School, got her start with the Totem Pole version in 1988, when she was 8-years-old. She played various roles, including the two Cratchit daughters, then went off to college and a career.

The Totem Pole also took a hiatus after 2004, and brought back the beloved play last year. Rebok was there. And since the Capitol Theater in Chambersburg is no longer large enough, the theatrical experience moved to a larger venue, which allows artistic director Rowan Joseph the space to make the 2015 production “more spectacular, with an even bigger cast, a much larger set and more special effects, including flying, and a new adaptation which will focus on the true meaning of Christmas.”

In Rebok's blood

Rebok, 35, teaches French at the secondary schools in Boonsboro, Md., and is also certified in theatre from Catholic University in Washington D.C. She was active in G-AHS shows under the direction of Kevin Carley. She works with her middle school students now in Drama Club, adamant that it is a valuable activity for youth.

“You can't not benefit from theatre,” she said.

Rebok has dual roles in “A Christmas Carol” in 2015. She performs as Mrs. Cratchit, and is the costumer for the 41 actors playing 67 roles. She fell in love with the costuming aspect of theatre in college, where she was required to work in every department connected to putting on a play. She also worked several summers as a costumer at Totem Pole.

She understands her contribution for the greater good. She is key to the real people and the personas they assume.

“You have an intimate relationship with the actors,” she said. “You have a relationship with the characters, and give the actors the pieces to help them.”

The clothing and accessories come from multiple sources, with thankfully many in storage. Rebok recognizes robes and items from decades ago. However, they may not fit the current actor, so she uses her resources to make, buy or round up whatever each person needs to transform on stage.

Preparation for everyone began in October, and the shows start on Thursday, Dec. 10. That's a school day.

Rebok is using personal days so she can make the matinee performances, and otherwise is juggling teaching and acting/costuming.

“I will be a little crazy,” she said of the next two weeks. “But if I'm going to be busy, I may as well be doing something I love. It is exhausting and satisfying.”

She likes the new setting and the script, rewritten to more closely follow the original book by Charles Dickens. She has un-memorized the lines drilled into her since childhood.

The Majestic

Because of space needs, and also because of contractual arrangements between Capitol Theater and the Actor's Equity Association, Totem Pole signed an agreement to appear at Majestic Theater through 2019. Joseph rewrote the script, changing it from the one authored by Totem's  Carl Schurr and Wil Love almost thirty years ago. He said much of the new adaptation is verbatim from Dicken's work. It also put 'Christ' back in “A Christmas Carol”.

Joseph's goal was to create an event perfect for the whole family. Rebok, now living in Hagerstown, will be joined by Greencastle resident Paris Peet, who reprises his role as Ebenezer Scrooge.

Performances are Dec. 11, 12, 18 and 19 at 8 p.m.

Matinees are Dec. 10, 12, 13, 16, 17, 19 and 20 at 2 p.m.

Ticket prices range from $30 to $36 for adults, and $20 for students age 18 and under.

They may be purchased at gettysburgmajestic.org or by calling 717-337-8200.