A very O'Connell Christmas carol

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’Tis the season to be jolly. With the Christmas break a few days away, students at Bishop O’Connell High School are getting into the holiday spirit with decorations in the classrooms and in the cafeteria. But more than any of the things that get us in the spirit is O’Connell’s annual stage reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” performed by students and faculty.  

This production — “A Very DJO Christmas Carol” — is one of many O’Connell traditions. It not only puts on a good show, but also collects donations in practice of the Catholic faith.

Even though the production is a stage reading, the elaborate and decorative stage props in the auditorium made the scenery of the play more realistic. The bottom of the stage was decorated with stockings and trimmings with lights, and the stage itself had props for every scene. The cast added their own flare with improvised costumes fit for each character.

O’Connell’s version of “A Christmas Carol” had its own twist, with teachers and staff being part of the cast. Senior Nikolas Rocha was the narrator of the play, adding pizzazz while reading. Teachers stepping out of the classroom to show their silly and fun side, with a bit of improv, makes this O’Connell tradition a must-see.

The cast included retired diocesan priest, Father Paul Richardson as Scrooge, and O’Connell math teacher, Sister, Servant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Elizabeth Goltman as Mr. Poole, along with an enthusiastic group of other faculty members from the science, math, history, English and language departments. Former English teacher Joseph LeBlanc, returned to play Marley, while other roles were filled by members of the O’Connell Players. The production was directed expertly by senior Margaret Parker.

Students in the audience enjoyed seeing their teachers outside the classroom. Each cast member brought their own personality to their character, sometimes adding extra humor to the scene. Science teacher, Nolan Britt, made a point to include a mention of bird-watching into his dialogue, while chemistry teacher, Sam Pell, made a point to compare and contrast the chemical properties of gold and silver rings, and to interject information on the origins of diamonds.

Although admission to this Christmas production was free, the school’s theater program directed all proceeds from the bake sale and concession stand to Gabriel Project, a national assistance resource for women facing difficult personal circumstances. Sara Zimmerman, O’Connell’s theater director, chose to contribute to this charity because it protects women and offers emotional, physical and financial support for unexpected or difficult pregnancies. “Gabriel Project is the perfect gift this Christmas season to remind us of the miracle of Christmas and trusting in God's plan for all of us, including unborn life,” said Zimmerman.

One of her favorite lines in the play from Scrooge’s character is, “I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it throughout the year.” This line inspires her to continue this tradition for years to come, bringing the spirit of Christmas to the O’Connell community. 

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2017