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'Ebenezer,' a virtual Long Island production, brings horror edge to Dickens' tale

Open Stage Works of Hauppauge will present a virtual production of “Ebenezer: A Haunted Tale,” a gothic spin on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” starring Robert “Doc” Frankenberg, of East Northport, starting Dec. 19. Credit: Lou Calienes

A group of Long Islanders is about to make Scrooge a bit scary. "Ebenezer: A Haunted Tale" is a new take on Charles Dickens’ holiday fable "A Christmas Carol," with a Gothic edge. This theatrical performance, presented by Open Stage Works of Hauppauge, will be available virtually on Dec. 19.

"It’s intense, but a different vision on a classic tale," says director/script editor Robert "Doc" Frankenberg, who stars as Ebenezer Scrooge and also composed the music. "The vision is very artsy and black box theater containing a simple set with nightclub lighting."

CHRISTMAS FRIGHT

The creators of this 45-minute show are the same team from the Chambers of Hell Halloween haunt and their goal is to inject some horror into the holidays.

"Our Ghost of Christmas Future is on stilts standing 12-feet tall and the Ghost of Christmas Present is holding a corpse wrapped in green cloth," says Frankenberg, 33, of East Northport. "Both the costumes and the lighting are very Gothic. Plus, the filming has an old grainy feel like a ’70s grindhouse horror film."

The cast of nine features Long Islanders who have been long time haunters and performers from Frankenberg’s school of ghouls. This includes Al Calienes, 57, of Port Jefferson (Jacob Marley/Ghost of Christmas Future), Brendan Noble, 30, of Patchogue (Fred/Ghost of Christmas Past/Chairman), Eric Bayer, 29, of Coram (Fezziwig/Gentleman Visitor), Lou Calienes of Port Jefferson (Tiny Tim/Child Scrooge/Town Boy), Luke Vanderputten, 26, of Coram (Ghost of Christmas Present), Natalie Govea, 32, of Patchogue (Scrooge’s Sweetheart/Cook/Gothic Host), Jeremy Bixson, 27, of Hauppauge (Bob Cratchit) and Guiliana Werner, 27, of Bay Shore (Mrs. Cratchit). But, it’s Frankenberg who takes center stage as the title character.

"I love being the villain because I always find it more interesting," he says. "To me, playing the good guy is easy. The villain always has a cooler back story."

CREEPY CLOSE-UP

Despite being virtual, this production expects to provide more of an immersive, intimate experience.

"There’s a Gothic host who talks directly into the camera insinuating that you are along for the ride," says Frankenberg. "A lot of the filming involves close-up shots, making it feel like the characters are talking to you."

The original plan was to hold this theatrical production in-person at Open Stage Works' new 3,000-square-foot production studio in Hauppauge. However, the pandemic turned it into a three-camera shoot virtual experience.

"Our goal is to provide a little relief from the world. We are in crazy times but we are lucky enough to continue forward," says Frankenberg. "Many feel like Christmas isn’t here but it’s up to entertainers to be that beacon of light. This is all meant to give our viewers the feeling like they had a night out."

“EBENEZER: A HAUNTED TALE”

WHEN/WHERE Premieres 9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 19 and then available for one month

INFO openstageworks.ticketspice.com/ebenezer-a-ghost-show

COST $10

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