The cast of the underwater ‘Christmas Carol’ run through the final scene at Bob Cratchit’s house during the dress rehearsal Wednesday afternoon. (photo courtesy of Mahdian)
Dive staff from Blacktip Island scuba resorts have joined forces to stage an underwater version of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol in the shallows off the Diddley’s Landing public pier. The play will be performed twice daily through Christmas Eve.
“We wanted a fresh take on an old classic,” artistic director Cori Anders said. “The dialogue’s 100% scuba signals, with some new ones we got from the local Mime Divers Association.
“Each actor gives surprising nuance to the hand signs – is that ‘eel’ sign fast, slow, over-the-top, understated? Small inflections carry a ton of weight,” Anders said. “After the ghost of Christmas Yet To Come leaves, Scrooge’s desperate out of air sign had the crew in tears.”
The cast includes:
- Elena Havens as Ebenezer Scrooge
- Gage Hoase as Bob Cratchit
- Marina DeLow as the Ghost of Christmas Past
- Alison Diesel as the Ghost of Christmas Present
- Wendy Beaufort as the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come
- Hugh Calloway as Tiny Tim
- Lee Helm as the Christmas Turkey
- Finn Kiick as Old Fezziwig
“We didn’t really need the Old Fezziwig character, but it’s just fun to say and lightened the rehearsals,” Anders said.
The underwater venue allows for creative staging.
“Scrooge clomps across the sand in lead boots, while neutrally-buoyant ghosts float over and around him,” said Blacktip Haven resort owner Elena Havens. “And when the inevitable sting ray cruises past, it gives an ethereal quality to the performance.
“The audience is on scuba and can view the play from any angle, so long as they don’t interfere with the actors,” Havens said. “And we have morning and afternoon shows to give all divers a chance to see it.”
Some of the staging had to be curtailed for safety’s sake.
“We tried a night dive version, but the audience got mixed in with the actors and it turned into a real Charlie Foxtrot,” said cast member Gage Hoase. “Things blew up when the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come scared the bejesus out of a couple from Cincinnati. They bolted to the surface. But, man, did they tip well at the end of the week.”
The play is not without its critics.
“You have to be 10 years old to scuba dive, which means the younger kiddos can’t see it,” local parent Ginger Bass said. “And the sign language is a mostly gibberish. I mean, I know the story and I had a hard time following along. I think they make it up as they go along, and there were some rude gestures mixed in that are definitely not scuba signals.”
Performances are at 10:30 and 2:45 daily. Proceeds of the play go to The Blacktip Island Widows and Orphans Fund, minus expenses and incidentals.