CHRISTMAS CAROL – 7 – 9 p.m. Theatrical performance of classic Charles Dickens Christmas story returns for 7th year running. Tickets, $15/adult. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1453 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org/stec_event/carol/0
“Change your ways!” warns the ghost of Jacob Marley (played by Sean Sansevere, Oneonta) to a stubborn Ebenezer Scrooge (Casey Thomas, Oneonta) during today’s Sunday matinee of Orpheus Theatre’s run of of “A Christmas Carol Musical” at Goodrich Theater at SUNY Oneonta. At right, Bob Cratchit (Jeff Moore, Oneonta) readies to go buy a Christmas turkey at market as Mrs. Cratchit (Dorothy Wisnewski, Oneonta) readies their son Tiny Tim (Lily Flynn, Oneonta) to accompany him. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
PERFORMANCE– 3-5 p.m. Enjoy this production of Charles Dickens’ classic tale “A Christmas Carol.” Tickets, $15/adult. The Farmers Museum, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-1453 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org
CHRISTMAS CONCERT – 2 p.m. “Our Lady of the Lake” presented by St. Mary’s Church. Features traditional Christmas carols sung by the congregation. St. Mary’s Church, 31 Elm St., Cooperstown. Call 607-547-2213 or visit www.stmaryscoop.org
CONCERT – 4:30 p.m. Enjoy the Bach Christmas Oratorio as presented by the Voices of Cooperstown. Concert begins 5 p.m. Cost, $25/adult. Christ Church, Episcopal, 46 River St., Cooperstown. Visit www.facebook.com/events/909332185899869/
DANCE PARTY – 8 p.m.-Midnight. Enjoy a night of Dancing in the 90s. Enjoy the music, & wear a costume. Cost, $3/costume, $5/no costume. The Foothills Performing Arts Center, Oneonta. Call 607-431-2080 or visit foothillspac.org
CHRISTMAS CEILI – 7-9 p.m. Participate in a traditional Irish Dance performed by the Iona Troupe. Tickets, $10/adult, $5/child. Cooperstown Art Association. Call 607-547-9777 or visit www.cooperstownart.com
MUSICAL – 7:30-10 p.m. The Orpheus Theater presents “Annie.” Tickets, $20/adult. Goodrich Theater, SUNY Oneonta. Call 607-432-9392 or visit www.facebook.com/OrpheusTheatre/
Give the gift of Christmas to children in need. To participate in the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program CLICK HERE!
BAZAAR & BAKE SALE – 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Find tree trimmings, crafts, knitted and crocheted and quilted items, a white elephant sale, more. Lunch available including soups, chilis, hot dogs, brownie sundaes. Elm Park United Methodist Church, 401 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Call 607-432-6552 visit elmparkumconeonta.org
SALE & LUNCHEON – 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Find wreaths, fresh arrangements, and a holiday bake sale by the Oneonta Federated Garden Club. Soup & sandwich luncheon also available. St. James Episcopal Church, 300 Main St., Oneonta. E-mail Angie.Eichler@oneonta.edu
COMMUNITY PROGRAM – 6:30 p.m. Dave Edwards of the Leatherstocking Beekeepers Association to discuss “Are Honey Bees really in trouble?” Woodside Hall, 1 Main St., Cooperstown. Call 607-547-0600 ext. 101 or visit www.facebook.com/Woodside.Hall/
NUTCRACKER – 7 p.m. The Fokine Ballet Company’s 29th production of “The Nutcracker.” Goodrich Theater, SUNY Oneonta, 108 Ravine Pkwy., Oneonta. Info/Tickets (607)432-6290, firstname.lastname@example.org
WRITERS PROGRAM – 1:30-3 p.m. Group to host author Shannon Delaney. She will talk about her writing process and journey through publishing. Huntington Memorial Library, 62 Chestnut St, Oneonta. Info, hmloneonta.org
CONCERT – 4 p.m. The Voices of Cooperstown to sing “Handel’s Messiah”. Tickets $20 Adult, $10 Child. Christ Episcopal Church, Fair St., Cooperstown. Tickets available at Cooperstown Art Association, 22 Main St., Cooperstown or Riverwood, 88 Main St., Cooperstown or Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, 31 Chestnut St., Cooperstown.
CHRISTMAS CEILI – 7 p.m. A full Irish dance performance by the Iona Troupe. Cooperstown Art Association, 22 Main St., Cooperstown. Info, www.cooperstownart.com
STANDING ROCK FUNDRAISER – 4-7 p.m. Includes a raffle. Donations go to help the Water Protectors of Standing Rock against future pipeline atempts. First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St., Oneonta.Info, www.firstumc-oneonta.org
SOMMELIER SERIES – 6 p.m. Join Sommelier Chad Douglas for his monthly wine tasting class. This months theme is “The Feast of the Seven Fishes” an Italian Christmas eve tradition. Cost $50/person. Info, Chad Douglas (607)544-2573 or visit www.otesaga.com/events
JAZZ HARMONIA CONCERT – 8:44 a.m.-10 a.m. Auditorium, Cooperstown Central School, 39 Linden Ave., Cooperstown. Info, www.cooperstowncs.org
By JIM KEVLIN • The Freeman’s Journal/HOMETOWN ONEONTA
Edition of Thursday-Friday, Dec. 25-26, 2014
Gary Koutnik hasn’t just played Scrooge, he and his audience live the story of redemption together.
“Everybody knows the play,” said the actor, mutton-chopped for the time being. “They know what happens at the end. They’re waiting for it. I feel like I’m being swept along.
“The more emotion I’m feeling on stage in the character, the more I can help the audience feel. And the audience helps me do that, too.”
Koutnik, retired special-ed director at Oneonta schools and county representative from the city’s Ward 1-2, completed his second run as Charles Dickens’ famous Grinch on Saturday, Dec. 20.
“A Christmas Carol,” which the Glimmer Globe Theatre and Templeton Players, sponsored by Matt and Mary Margaret Sohns, performed for a second year at The Farmers’ Museum, filled four performances at the Louis Jones Center over two weekends.
Because of its universal message, “A Christmas Carol” has enduring appeal, said Danielle Henrici, NYSHA director of education and producer. For some families, including hers while growing up on Long Island, seeing “A Christmas Carol” is an annual tradition.
“There really is hope,” she said of its message. “Even if you’ve gone astray, you can correct yourself and be a good person. It’s really what the holidays are all about – remembering what really matters in life.”
For Koutnik, Scrooge was “a bucket-list role” (along with Dickens’ Fagan in “Oliver Twist”).
A docent at Hyde Hall, he had met Danielle then-Newell and her now-husband, Mike Henrici, when they conducted ghost tours together at the National Historic Landmark mansion.
When the couple asked him to play Scrooge, Koutnik quickly accepted, then realized his son, Randall, was getting married that same weekend. As arrangements proceeded, the son and bride Lily shifted the ceremony a week, and Scrooge Koutnik was born.
“Scrooge has to play the whole range,” the actor reflected. “Greed, unhappiness – then he has to be so joyous and giving. And that happens as the play progresses – it’s a great challenge.”
It seems there are many, many scripts based on “A Christmas Carol.” But the lines in this one, written by Mike Henrici, with contributions from Danielle, are the words Dickens used in the novel, an added attraction for Koutnik.
Otsego County’s Scrooge was raised on Long Island, and his interest in acting dates back to attending elementary school plays in Wantagh.
As a high school freshman, he was cast as a crowd member. The next year, he was Frederick, one of the Trapp children in “Sound of Music.” “That opened my eyes to what this all should be,” he said. “I just never stopped.”
After college, he joined ONC BOCES’ special-ed faculty, and after 14 years moved to the Oneonta City School District, but he continued to direct and perform. On the Oneonta theater scene, he was Arthur in “Camelot,” the baker in “Into the Woods,” and – his favorite role – Juror #8 in “Twelve Angry Men,” the role played by Henry Fonda in the movie.
In the special-ed field, he met wife Abbey, who is also an artist and performing clown. They have two sons, Randall, writing code in San Francisco, and Whitsun, at home.
Koutnik was recently elected to a second term on the county board. But his second term as Scrooge will be his last, as least for a while. “It’s a great thrill,” he said, but added, “I don’t want to play a lifelong Scrooge.” (The Henricis have recruited Dr. Don Raddatz to step in next year.)
Still, Scrooge is a hard role to let go. You can almost hear Koutnik shiver as he depicts Scrooge asking the black-shrouded Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come: “Show me someone who feels tenderness regarding a death.”
The Ghost shows him the mourning Cratchits.
“I’ve asked you to show me tenderness,” our Scrooge declares. “And you have.” A pause. “Take me away.”