When it comes to Christmas miracles, Santa isn’t the only one who’s found a way to make magic happen. Dick Terhune does it, too — only his magic takes place onstage.
Terhune is an actor who portrays more than 30 characters in dramatic solo performances of “A Christmas Carol.” His 2019 show at the Warner Theatre in Torrington was so popular it sold out its weeklong run.
Those who missed it at the Warner’s Nancy Marine Studio Theatre, or want to see it again, can do so this month, thanks to the virtual presentation of an encore production.
“A Christmas Carol: A Solo Performance Featuring Dick Terhune,” is streaming free on the theater’s YouTube channel and Facebook page, starting Friday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m., and running through Friday, Jan. 1, at 6 p.m.
This version is adapted from Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story Of Christmas,” by Patrick R. Spadaccino. While there’s no fee, donations to the Warner’s annual fund are welcome. (The presentation is made possible by the generosity of the Marine family.)
So, how does one actor portray more than 30 roles? Here are some interesting things about Terhune, gleaned from a previous interview, that might help explain.
First of all, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” can take some credit for his mastery of British accents. He told us he discovered the comedic series as a teen and enjoyed it so much, he began developing his voice skills to share the sketches with friends.
“Listening to John Cleese, Eric Idle, Graham Chapman, Michael Palin and the rest of the company, then repeating the sketches to myself (and friends who also watched) helped me hone my Brit chops,” he said.
Terhune first saw “A Christmas Carol” as a youngster. Various animated versions stuck with him. “The Albert Finney musical ‘Scrooge,’ was memorable, but it was in eighth grade that my English teacher had the class read the book aloud — and perform it — that I really began to appreciate Dickens’ story and how artfully he told it.”
People are often astonished when they hear he does every character. He, himself, did not realize it was doable until he saw Sir Patrick Stewart perform the story as a one-man show on Broadway in the ’90s.
Terhune uses several British accents in “A Christmas Carol” because the characters “are from different parts of London and sometimes different parts of England.”
When he first performed it last December, he’d been working on his lines since May 2019. Memorizing everything was challenging, but once that was done, he said “the joy of letting the story come alive” was magical. Audience members said they could see everything in their minds as he told the tale.
“The most powerful special effect that we can employ is the audience’s own imagination,” he said.
Terhune grew up in Nebraska and began his career working in radio while still in high school. He’s been a professional voice actor for 20-plus years, working from his home studio in Litchfield and in New York City.