Couple step in to lead Players’ production of ‘A Christmas Carole’

Dec 17, 2015

By VIRGINIA KROPF - The Daily News Online

BATAVIA — When Sean Williams assisted Patrick Burk a year ago in directing “Dracula” for the Batavia Players, he knew he had found a new niche.

Sean also came to mind when Burk, the troupe’s president and artistic director, learned that his wife needed surgery. Burk asked Sean and his wife, Wendy, to be co-directors of the season-ending Christmas presentation of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

“This Christmas show is one of Patrick’s babies, so when he asked us direct it, I was honored he trusted us with the show,” Sean said.

Both Sean and Wendy come with a background in performing.

He is the new band director at Batavia Middle School and once directed a school presentation of “Arsenic and Old Lace” while working in Wolcott. Both are from Hilton and graduated together. Wendy was an equity actor in Cleveland before coming back to Western New York in 2002. She started acting here in 2012.

Wendy works with children and is assistant director with a children’s production troupe. She has also written and directed a historical play of Ohio.

Sean has appeared in at least 15 productions, and while he likes acting, he enjoys directing. His acting appearances had him cast in roles of comic relief or the villain.

“I could easily have been Scrooge,” he said.

Sean said they have an outstanding cast, including Bill Moon, who is playing Ebeneezer Scrooge for the third time.

“He plays ‘crochety’ better than anybody I’ve ever seen,” Sean said.

Anthony Giambrone, who plays Jacob Marley’s ghost, was also absolutely brilliant as the maniacal psychotic Renfield in Dracula, Sean said.

Giambrone’s performance in “A Christmas Carol” is payback for a favor he owed Sean.

“He needed a man to play a woman in his last production (I was Mama in Hairspray), so I called him in to play Jacob Marley’s ghost,” Sean said.

Sean is putting his own spin on the Christmas special.

“In all the productions I’ve seen, Jacob Marley is not that scary,” Sean said. “My Jacob Marley is not only the scariest actor I know, but I rewrote the scene I call ‘Jacob’s Reveal.’ It includes spooky ghost sounds, bells ringing uncontrollably and Jacob Marley’s head levitating.”

Sean refuses to say how he achieved the levitating head, but said people will have to come and see for themselves.

In addition to co-directing, Wendy plays the Ghost of Christmas Past and choreographed the show.

Sean said there is a difference between acting in a show and being the director.

“As an actor, you are focused on developing your own character and where it fits in the show,” Sean said. “As director, you view the whole scope. You work with each character and have to be aware how they relate to each other.”

He said “A Christmas Carol” has a remarkable cast of young actors, and praised Wendy for her work with them.

“She even brought in Victorian textbooks and paper dolls so the kids could see how their character would have looked back then,” Sean said.

“A Christmas Carol” will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 17, 18 and 19 and at 2 p.m. Dec. 19 and 20 at Harvester 56 Theater, 56 Harvester Ave.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for seniors and students. They are available at the door, or through www.showtix4u.com.