By Alan Foster
Tiny Tim, one of the key characters in the magical musical Scrooge which is running now at the Spring Lake Community House, will be performed by nine-year-old Hope Wilton of Lake Como. This event is remarkable in a number of ways; the first being that nine-year-old Miss Wilton is lucky to be on any stage at all.
Delivered by C-Section five weeks prematurely, she was neither breathing nor did she have any signs of a heartbeat at birth. One of the nurses at the time stated that Hope “looked completely blue and stiff as a board”. She was subsequently diagnosed with hydrops fetalis, a condition in which fluid leaves the blood stream and enters the body and chylothorax, when that fluid collapses the lungs. This means, basically, that even though her weight at birth was eight pounds and thirteen ounces, over two pounds of that weight was fluid. She was given only a 50% chance of survival.
However thanks to a huge and skilled crew of doctors and nurses in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, she was given the effective care she required and, after forty days at the hospital, was able to beat the odds and survive.
“Obviously, it was a very difficult time for the whole family,” Sarah Hope, Hope’s mother, recently stated. “The entire hospital staff was just fantastic. But that is why we gave her the name Hope. She was our miracle baby…’the girl who lived'”.
Mary Lough of Point Pleasant, who is the musical director of Scrooge says “Hope just blew me away at the auditions. She was by far the best one we had of the many kids who tried out for the part. And it’s not an easy role to sing or play as well”.
Pat Barry of Spring Lake, who has been the producer of the musical for each year of its thirty-four year run, also agrees. “Usually a young boy will play the role of Tiny Tim, and we’ve had many fine young men play the part. In fact, one of them, Kevin Polke, is now playing the role of Tiny Tim’s father Bob Cratchit in this production”. “And,” she adds, “Hope will be our third young lady in the part. We’re all so very proud of her”.
Scrooge is directed by Kerry White (Brielle), Christine Baglivio (Point Pleasant) and will feature Derek Hulse (Point Pleasant) as the often unpleasant Ebenezer Scrooge, Doug Moore (Brick) as the bombastic Ghost of Christmas Present, Frank Ryan (Spring Lake) as the fearful Ghost of Christmas Future and Patrick Murphy (Spring Lake) as the daunting Ghost of Jacob Marley.
The one-hundred member cast also features Colleen Hulse (Point Pleasant) as Mrs. Cratchit, Maggie McKeon (Point Pleasant) as Isabel, John Gnazzo (Lincroft) as Young Scrooge and Gwyneth Fahy (Spring lake) as the Ghost of Christmas Past.
Obviously, this is a wonderful show for the entire family. Not only do we see a Tiny Time who in real life was saved by a remarkable medical miracle and a loving and dedicated family, but we see her act out the fictional Tiny Tim on stage, whose handicaps are overcome with the help of a dedicated family and a very changed Scrooge. Remarkable? Absolutely!
Tickets are on sale at the Spring Lake Community House Box Office at 300 Madison Avenue in Spring Lake, NJ. You may also purchase by phone at 732-449-4530 or online at springlaketheatre.com. The show runs Friday and Saturday evenings at 7:30pm through December 17 with matinees on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at 2:00pm through December 18.