"Cricket on the Hearth" is a love story for the holidays

Margaretville — “To have a Cricket on the Hearth is the luckiest thing in all the world,” says Dot Peerybingle in The Open Eye Theater’s production of Charles Dickens’ “The Cricket on the Hearth,” opening Thursday, Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., at The Open Eye Theater in Margaretville. 
The story, one of Dickens’ Christmas novellas, has been adapted for the stage by Amie Brockway, and is directed by Monica Wildermuth.  Adrienne J. Brockway has designed the set and lighting. 
The play takes place in winter in the English countryside during the first half of the 19th century.  It concerns John Peerybingle, a middle-aged parcel carrier and his young wife Dot, who dotes on him.  They have a merry and musical Cricket on their hearth.  Also in their happy home is a Baby Boy, just two-months and three-days-old, his nursemaid Tilly Slowboy, a musical Kettle, and a dog named Boxer who shows boundless enthusiasm and impeccable judgment.
Among the Peerybingles’ friends and acquaintances are a kind old toymaker and his blind daughter Bertha, Dot’s friend May whom she has known from school days and who is now a beautiful young woman, her domineering mother, a villainous employer, his delivery boy, and a mysterious stranger.  Truth versus fiction is the prominent theme.
Playing the title role of Cricket and also Bertha Plummer is actress/violinist Catherine Dudley, who has recently performed with such acclaimed recording artists as Nelly McKay and Jason Trachtenburg. She has worked in film, TV and stage, and her own screenplay “Parallel Chords” has been optioned twice, and received a grant from the NEA.   Rachel Adams plays Dot Peerybingle, Laura Battelani is Boxer, Patricia Brannen is Tilly Slowboy, Melissa Day is Delivery Boy, John Exter is Caleb Plummer, Robby Goodman is The Stranger, Russell Koronowski is Kettle, Agnes Laub is Mrs. Fielding, Roy Moses is Tackleton, and Sheri Temple is May Fielding.  Elizabeth Sherr is stage manager. Choreography and costumes are by Amie Brockway.
Performances of “The Cricket on the Hearth” at The Open Eye Theater, 960 Main Street, Margaretville, are Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, December 4, 5, and 6 at 7 p.m.  Matinees are Saturday, Dec. 6 at 2 p.m., and Sunday, Dec. 7 at 3 p.m.  Tickets are adults $15; seniors $12; students and children $7.  Phone 586-1660 for information, reservations, and group rates or e-mail openeye@catskill.net.