By May S. Ruiz
A Noise Within (ANW), the acclaimed repertory theatre company in Pasadena, presents Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ for the sixth year. Onstage from December 1st to the 23rd, it remains, to this day, the embodiment of the true spirit of this season.
Adapted directly from the original novella by Geoff Elliott, ‘A Christmas Carol’ is directed by ANW’s Co-Producing Artistic Directors, Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott.
‘A Christmas Carol’ features mostly the same cast members as in previous years, including: Geoff Elliott as Scrooge; Rafael Goldstein as his nephew, Fred; Deborah Strang as the Ghost of Christmas Past; and Frederick Stuart as the narrator. Seven-year-old newcomer, Ryan Dizon plays the youngest of the Cratchit children, Tiny Tim.
“I’ve watched the movie and I saw ‘A Christmas Carol’ here two years ago and I enjoyed it a lot. I can’t remember much about Tiny Tim but I’m really excited to be playing him,” Dizon says with a big smile.
Dizon is not a stranger to acting. According to his mom, Corinne Chooey, he started modeling for commercials as a baby and expanded to print work. Lately, he appeared in the film ‘Dr. Strange’ and just finished work on the television show ‘Jane, the Virgin’.
This artistic interest runs in the Dizon-Chooey family. Both his parents and two older brothers, Ethan and Zachary, are in the entertainment business. He and his siblings all attended ANW’s ‘Summer with Shakespeare Workshop’ as well as the Saturday acting class.
“In the Summer with Shakespeare workshop I learned four different types of plays – comedy, romance, history, and tragedy,” Dizon informs proudly. “Comedy always has a good ending. In tragedy everybody gets a bad ending. Romance play is where the good guys have a good ending and bad guys get a bad ending. And history play is about England.”
“This is my first stage play,” continues Dizon. “Rehearsals began on November 14 and the show opened on December 1st. I didn’t really have a lot of lines to memorize so it’s easy. Everyone is nice – they all treat me like a child. Because Tiny Tim can’t walk, I am being carried a lot on the show. The entire experience is so much fun that I would like to be on other ANW productions.”
“Besides acting, there’s some singing on this show – I start the first lines of the Tiny Tim song, and I sing in another number; I’m also part of the ensemble,” Dizon states, grinning. “My favorite portion is the end where Scrooge turns into a kind man and where we all sing ‘Glorious’.”
“Christmas is my favorite holiday because it is when we spend time with our family. Last year all my cousins came over to my house and we had a grand time,” Dizon volunteers without prodding, which touches his mom immensely.
“We have a large family on both sides; Ryan has a lot of cousins. It’s a big occasion in our house – we have a Christmas tree, we gather as a clan, we open presents. Since we have two different cultures, Filipino and Chinese, we blend the two together. It’s an especially big holiday for my husband because he’s Filipino; I think Filipinos start celebrating it in September. On Christmas eve our table is filled with food – mostly desserts,” Chooey laughingly discloses.
Acting is embedded in Dizon’s genes. Chooey reveals, “My grandparents were movie stars from Hong Kong and my aunts are dancers. My cousins are also actors, dancers, musicians, and producers. So, for me, getting my children involved in it was simply a natural consequence.
However, my husband and I don’t make them do it; we let them pursue it only if they want to. Ryan’s older brother, Ethan, who is 15 years old, revels being on screen. He was in the summer movie ‘Spiderman: Homecoming’ and also appears on some TV shows. Zachary is nine years old and was in the TV series ‘Henry Danger’ in 2014. He chose to quit acting and we were fine with his decision. But after a year he asked, ‘When’s my next audition’. And Ryan, here, seems to like it enormously.”
For his audition as Tiny Tim, Dizon met with Elliott. He recounts, “I walked into the rehearsal room and he asked me to pretend there was a window and there were a lot of toys to play with. Then he asked me to walk with a limp. And the last thing was for me to sing; I sang ‘Happy Birthday’ because that’s the only one I know the words to.”
Dizon adds, “To prepare for this role my mom downloaded some vocal warm-ups and the songs in ‘A Christmas Carol’ on my Kindle. That helped me memorize the songs and prepare me to become Tiny Tim. I can’t wait for my whole family to come and watch the show.”
“Christmas is a big, happy occasion for the Chooey and Dizon clan. We’re very excited that Ryan is part of this cherished family play. I hope everyone who comes to see it leaves the theatre with the spirit of kindness and bigheartedness the show inspires,” Chooey says.
That sentiment is echoed by Rodriguez-Elliott, “Ebenezer Scrooge’s rebirth from miserly curmudgeon to the essence of love and generosity affirms our faith in the potent goodness of humanity during this beloved time of year.”
Elliott adds, “‘A Christmas Carol’ is the epitome of Christmas entertainment which encompasses warm moments, beautiful score, memorable scenes, and great performances. Half a generation of children have grown up on it and families continue to make it our most popular production of the year. Students studying Dickens come to see his story leap off the page onto our stage.”
For all these reasons, being Tiny Tim in ‘A Christmas Carol’ this year is of deep significance to this second-grader. Indeed, it is one Christmas carol Ryan Dizon shall remember the words to and sing in years to come.