Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Christmas Carol - meet cast member Colin Davies

Tell us about your role in A Christmas Carol.
I play one of the Narrators and also one of the Gentlemen.  The Narrator is essentially the voice of Dickens, responsible for introducing scenes and setting the context, and commenting on the action, as a kind of Greek chorus.  The Gentleman I play is humorous, slightly pompous, and good natured.

What were some of the challenges you had with this show?
What is unusual about the role of the Narrator is that he does not actually interact with any of the other characters, apart from the other Narrator, who is brilliantly played by Dan Lavanga.  He speaks to the audience but not to the other people on stage, which means he does not develop his relationship with others and broaden his character.  The challenge is to explain what is happening, or about to happen, without detracting from the action.  The role of the Gentleman is a fun part - as I said, slightly pompous, and not necessarily all that bright.

What do you hope the audience takes away from A Christmas Carol?
I grew up in England, and so I was steeped in Dickens, and I admire the way he can write very touchingly without becoming over-sentimentalized.  We are living in difficult and unpredictable times, and Dickens' story seems more relevant than ever.  Like many people, I have recently been saddened by the lack of sympathy expressed by some towards those in far worse conditions than ourselves, and "A Christmas Carol" expresses very effectively the message of Christian kindness and generosity towards others.

A Christmas Carol - meet cast member Daniel Calderon

Tell us about your character in A Christmas Carol.
Jacob Marley is a ghost of himself. He was just as Scrooge is in the beginning of the play - a shrewd, unfeeling man of business who weighs any situation by the amount of monetary profit he might gain from it. It isn't until he dies that he realizes how much of a waste that is and so he has returned to the one friend, and protege, he had in the world - Ebenezer Scrooge - to save him from the same fate in the afterlife.

What were some of the challenges for you in working on this show?

Oddly enough, it was the accent that gave me the most trouble. I've done accents throughout my time on stage but finding the right one and sticking with it was hard. Fortunately, I had a patient director and some fellow cast members who could help me find my way.

What do you hope audiences will take away from A Christmas Carol?
I hope audiences will see how everyone is important to everyone else. There are no insignificant players in the show. Everyone Scrooge encounters is key to his salvation and I hope the audience sees the correlation in their own lives. It's not just about being "nice" on Christmas. It's a story of how to keep that kind of spirit actively working through each of us every day of our lives because -- as Jacob Marley found out -- it is too late once we are no longer in this world.

A Christmas Carol - meet cast member Katya Zaitsev

Tell us about your character in A Christmas Carol.
Girl Cratchit is very happy.  She is excited for Christmas.  She likes to help people.  She loves her family very much.

What challenges did you face working on this show?
Sometimes it can be hard to focus on two things at once, like saying a line and getting a basket to decorate the Christmas tree.  It is also hard to think of Tiny Tim dying and being sad for that scene.

What do you hope the audience takes away from A Christmas Carol?
Never be mean.  Always be grateful for what you have.

A Christmas Carol - meet cast member Erik Rieloff

Tell us about your role in A Christmas Carol.
My First and primary Character is Fred the nephew of Ebenezer Scrooge and only surviving family member. I am the son of his beloved sister Fan, whom for the most part represented the only light in his life. Fred is is very resolute in his ways and is happy no matter how his uncle treats him or feels about his presence. She died giving birth to me and he resents me for that but also subconsciously yearns for my company. I love my uncle no matter what and I am intent on spreading Christmas cheer to him no matter what. Fred is the life of the party and everywhere he goes people love him for his humility and giving nature.

On the other side of the spectrum I play the most feared and dark character being that of the ghost of Christmas Future. He does not speak at all but has a very menacing presence and is symbolic of the most dreadful of outcomes in Scrooge's life should he not take heed of the lessons learned from the previous encounters with other spirits. No one ever wants to come across this particular apparition but Scrooge has no choice but to suffer his company.

What were some of the challenges you faced in working on this show?
As far as some of the challenges of working on this piece I would have to say that perhaps my biggest obstacle is the fact that I am not used to playing someone who is so cheerful and constantly happy no matter what the circumstances may be. It is a challenge each time our wonderful director tells me to be more cheery (LOL) but I guess you can just accredit that to my NYC roots. Having just moved here only 2 weeks before my audition, I also found it a little difficult to juggle the intense schedule with all the other obstacles that can sometimes come about when moving to an entirely new place. However, everyone has made me feel so welcome and I could not ask to be part of a better cast.

What do you hope the audiences take away from A Christmas Carol?
I hope the audiences are able to feel all the love that we put into this production starting with the beautiful vision of our lovely director, Rachael Hubbard and all the way down to the very last note of music played by the wonderfully talented Linda Wells. All of the actors are a vessel for each audience members vision and imagination as it pertains to this Charles Dickens masterpiece. We poured all of our hearts and soul into this and without the help of all the staff and crew it would not be possible to make the process so fantastic to be a part of. I can't wait to see all of the smiling faces.  I just want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart.

A Christmas Carol - meet cast member Lindsey Gattuso

Tell us about your character.
My character's name is Belinda Cratchit.  She is 11 (I am 10).  I am the middle Cratchit girl.  My dad works for this really mean man named Scrooge and my parents don't like him.  I don't know much about who he is and why he makes my dad so sad all the time but I worry about my parents.  I also worry about my little brother, Tiny Tim because he isn't well.  We are poor but we have a Christmas tree, we have food, and we have each other.

What were some challenges you faced working on A Christmas Carol?
One of the challenges I have is singing a carol on stage while decorating a tree.  I solved this by practicing the song a lot at home so I didn't think about it anymore.  Also, at first I thought I'd have a hard time feeling sad doing the scene when (spoiler alert!) Tiny Tim dies -- but it turns out it's not really a challenge after all because doing the scene really makes me sad.  The other actors make it feel so real, so it then feels real to me.

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?
I hope that after seeing this play, people will like it so much they will want to come next year and the year after that and make it a holiday tradition.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Christmas Carol - Larry Grey on playing Ebenezer Scrooge

Ebenezer Scrooge is the ultimate story of Christmas and of Redemption. Ebenezer Scrooge is arguably both one of the most famous characters created by Charles Dickens and in English literature. Scrooge's catchphrase, "Bah, Humbug" is often used to express disgust with many of the modern Christmas traditions. He is the focal character of Dickens 1843 Novella "A Christmas Carol. At the beginning of the novella, Scrooge is a cold-hearted miser who despises Christmas. Dickens describes him thus: "The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice...".

There have been many theories as to how Dickens arrived at the name for the character. My favorite, and I think the one that actually Describes him the best, and influences how I portray him, is that Dickens chose the name Ebenezer which in scripture and history means "the stone of help" to describe the help given to Scrooge by the spirits to change his life. The surname may be from the now obscure English verb scrouge, meaning "squeeze" or "press" Describing the cold hearted miser who has pressed the  joy out of life and has taken refuge in greed, avarice, and life without emotion and caring.  His last name has come into the English language as a byword for miserliness and misanthropy.

Scrooge's story represents to me the ultimate meaning of Christmas. It is a story of redemption. To a life trapped in darkness that holds only doom and despair comes a message of hope and change and light. Throughout A Christmas Carol the personality of Ebenezer Scrooge shifts from a man who only cares about himself and his wealth to a man who cares about others. This change in personality is due to the messages of all four visiting ghosts. The first ghost, the ghost of Jacob Marley, gave Scrooge the initial warning of how a wasted life of greed, spite and selfishness towards others, such as shady business practices, meagre wages, long work hours, and unreasonable punishment, will result an agonizing afterlife full of unending torment; constantly suffering and never resting. The Ghost of Christmas Past reminds Scrooge of how kind he used to be and makes him realize how much he’s changed since then. It reminded Scrooge of the joy he once felt and could spread to others, such as his sister or wife. The Ghost of Christmas Present showed him the abundance of society and how it was not properly distributed amongst the social classes. This was a reoccurring theme for Dickens in many of his tales.  Want and Greed appear to show that if the people are not taken care of properly, then the gap between the classes and the anger in society will grow.

Finally, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come shows what Scrooge’s fate is; however Scrooge questions if it was Christmas yet to come, or Christmas of what could be. This final encounter really showed Scrooge that in order for others to care about someone, that person must first care about others. That is the message I hope the audience walks away with. To Care for others. The message of Christmas is redemption, change, hope and life!