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NK students playing their part in 'A Christmas Carol'

November 26, 2012

Special to the Standard

NORTH KINGSTOWN–The way two local girls describe this year’s production of “A Christmas Carol” at Trinity Rep sounds magical—and they should know—they are both in the cast.
Alison Hornung, 12, a seventh grader at Davisville Middle School and Mia Douglas, 10, a fifth grader at Fishing Cove Elementary live around the corner from each other in North Kingstown. Hornung’s little sister and Douglas are in the same class.
Both girls found out in early October that they had been chosen to be a part of the cast of Trinity Repertory Company’s annual production of the Charles Dickens classic, one of Rhode Island’s signature holiday events.
Since October 11, the two girls, along with the other 12 children who make up the two children’s casts, have been rehearsing nearly every day for the production that opened Nov. 10. Each girl will perform in at least 31 shows before the curtains close on Dec. 29. That includes nighttime shows and regular and school matinees.
At the auditions, the girls say they had to sing a Christmas song and read lines from the play. At the callback, they were given a song to sing, sang as a group with the other children auditioning and performed scenes from the play.
While Hornung doesn’t know an exact number, she believes close to 200 children from across the state auditioned for the coveted roles.
Hornung has performed at the
Stadium Theater in Woonsocket, with the Missoula Children’s Theatre and even won a talent show competition modeled after American Idol at her school. Most recently, she auditioned and made it through the preliminary rounds of “The X Factor,” but found out later that she was ineligible because her birthday was just three months past the show’s cutoff point.
Douglas, who is a member on a local cheerleading team and takes singing lessons, has performed before at the Theatre by the Sea.
For the two girls, there has been little time for anything but the play and its rehearsals and the only time the pair have had for themselves has come on the one scheduled day off they get each week.
The girls rehearsed for an hour a nights on school nights and up to six hours each day on weekends.
In preparing for her role as Belinda Cratchit, and her multiple smaller parts in the show, Douglas says she feels the key is “to know the cue lines.”
Hornung, meanwhile, was cast as a young fan and as the little girl in scenes such as “The Spirit of Christmas Present.”
“I like the costumes,” Douglas said when asked what her favorite part of being in the show was.
Douglas wears “old timing” clothes that she says are “very hot and thick,” and at other times “bright, nice clothes” that “look very rich.”
From “raggedy clothes” to “bright yellow” and “red and green,” Hornung’s costumes varied, but when asked to describe them, she enthusiastically classifies them as belonging to the “1840’s!”
This year, Trinity Rep’s production of “A Christmas Carol” is “really, really traditional,” Hornung says, because it is the 200th anniversary of Charles Dickens’ birthday.
“It is exactly like the book,” she said, noting that all of her classmates at Davisville are currently reading it and plan to come to the show.
The play will be performed in the traditional sense, right down to the girls’ British accents, which they have been receiving coaching on.
“I’ve waited so long to be in this play,” Hornung said, noting that she auditioned four times and this was her last chance before she was too old for the children’s cast.
“There is a different director every year,” Hornung said, adding that she didn’t know what this year’s director Tyler Dobrowsky was looking for. Hornung wasn’t sure if the focus was on “how you act, how you sing or how you look” or if the director was more concerned with bring in “kids with dark hair or light hair.”
Hornung said she thinks she was supposed to be in this year’s “tall cast,” but she and Douglas asked if they could be together for easy carpooling.
The kids aren’t just tucked away either, Douglas said, adding that the pair work with the play’s adult cast—notably Timothy Crowe as this year’s Ebenezer Scrooge—“in every scene.”
One of the highlights of the whole experience for the girls came just before the show opened. It was then that Douglas and Hornung had their chance to step onto the big stage in the Chace Theater.
There is “one giant set,” Douglas explained, noting that there is a Big Ben replica and “the clock moves.”
It also has a second floor and “trap doors,” Hornung added.
The pair’s family and friends are planning on coming to the show. So, too, is Douglas’ cheerleading team.
But why should others take the trip to Trinity Rep?
“Because its really good,” Hornung said, adding that there is “a lot of pretty music,” surprise special effects like snow and the traditional take on the material makes it much different than other years where “it’s of kind of wacked,” she said with a laugh.
Working with such a large cast would seem like a challenge but it’s something Douglas enjoys about the experience, explaining that the crew works well together to bring out the best in each other.
“Everyone knows their lines and if they mess up they don’t stop,” she said.
Hornung can’t get enough of performing and, if anything, this play has deepened her love for the arts.
“I’ll never stop doing it,” Hornung said. “I don’t care, I’ll do as much as they want. It’s a lot of hard work to be in things like this, but its worth it.”
“A Christmas Carol” written by Charles Dickens and adapted by Richard Cumming and Adrian Hall, is playing now through Dec. 29 at Trinity Rep in Providence. For more information or for tickets, visit Trinity Rep on the web at or call 351-4243.

Southern Rhode Island Newspapers
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