Sunday, July 13, 2014

‚??A Christmas Carol‚?? is in their genes

February 19. 2013 8:55PM
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When A Christmas Carol opened to a packed house at the Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble two weeks ago, founding BTE members Elizabeth Dowd and Rand Whipple stood back in the standing-room-only section and watched proudly as their daughter, McCambridge Dowd-Whipple, brought Mrs. Cratchit to life.

We both got kind of choked up, Dowd said. We never could have imagined this day would come.

But when you think about it, A Christmas Carol is in Dowd-Whipple's genes.

Her dad played miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge in BTE's first production of the Dickens classic, and over the years her mom played every female character there is, from Scrooge's girlfriend of the past to his mentor's wife, Mrs. Fezziwig, and of course, Mrs. Cratchit.

McCambridge herself, when she was about 8 years old, played Tiny Tim, the loving little boy with the crutch in a show in which Dowd did not appear. I thought it would be nice for her to have the experience without her mother in the room, Dowd said.

Fun as it was to portray the Cratchits' youngest child, it didn't convince Dowd-Whipple that she, too, wanted to pursue an acting career.

That realization came during her teen years, when she attended the Pennsylvania Governor's School for the Arts, said Dowd-Whipple, 23, who is living and working in Chicago but came back to Bloomsburg for a BTE internship.

It's great, Dowd-Whipple said of the opportunity to seek advice from her mother. I've always really admired my mom, as anyone does when they're a kid. It's nice to grow up and still have all the respect in the world for her.

But the young actress has put her own stamp on the role of Mrs. Cratchit.

When I see Mac on stage I don't see myself, Dowd said. I see an individual making her own choices. A role is like a vase, and every actor fills the vase differently. That's what keeps it fresh and interesting.

Dowd doesn't have a role in A Christmas Carol at BTE this season, but she is involved with two other holiday productions.

In Live From Bloomsburg: A Very Special Christmas Special, she plays a sister to Andy Billiams, host of a variety show filled with music, dancing and skits in the style of shows put on by the real-life Andy Williams, Bing Crosby and Osmond Family.

That show takes place at The Moose Exchange on Main Street, Bloomsburg.

Dowd also is directing The Santaland Diaries, a one-man show in which a former department-store worker reflects on his experiences as Crumpet the elf. That show, for mature audiences, also is at The Moose Exchange.

So both mother and daughter thespians are busy, though in different shows. That's just fine, Dowd said.

Much as I would love to be on stage together, there's something really beautiful about being able to be out in the audience, just watching and enjoying.

If you go

What: ‘Live From Bloomsburg: A Very Special Christmas Special'

When: 7 tonight, 4 and 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Moose Exchange, 203 Main St., Bloomsburg

Admission: $15

What: ‘The Santaland Diaries'

When: 8 p.m. Thursday; 8 p.m. Dec. 14 and Dec. 16; 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Dec. 15

Where: The Moose Exchange, 203 Main St., Bloomsburg

Admission: $15

What: ‘A Christmas Carol'

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays; 3 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 28. Special matinee Dec. 29

Where: Alvina Krause Theater, 226 Center St., Bloomsburg

More info: 784-8181

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