We all grew up with Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. Whether we read the book, watched the movies, or caught a theatrical production of the age-old story, a holiday season didn't get by us without Ebeneezer Scrooge making an appearance. And whatever your preferred method of dosing on Dickens was, it would be an injustice, and probably land you on that weird jolly guy's naughty list, if you skipped the Actors' Playhouse version--A Christmas Carol, the Musical, at the Miracle Theatre. The familiar story takes a musical turn with music and lyrics by Scott Morlock and Earl Maulding, who also adapted the story with Nina Felice.
Earl Maulding shares a few words with us after the jump.
New Times: When staging such a traditional classic, how do you approach it? Do you go with "tried and true" or put a spin on it?
Earl Maulding: A combination of both. We want to stay true to the "spirit" of the piece, pun intended, but still make it visual and fun enough that it is accessible to the young audiences of today. It is important that they know they are in a different time and place but that these are still people like them that are dealing with their own issues.
What do you think A Christmas Carol offers audiences?
The opportunity to examine their own lives while watching Scrooge struggle with a difficult time in his life. He has choices, as we all do, of which way he could turn. Fortunately the story turns to the positive, happy side. As tiny Tim says,"Yes, let us remember those less fortunate than ourselves,even Mr. Scrooge." The characters and audience both have the opportunity to have empathy for Scrooge and his struggles.
What can the audience expect from the Actor's Playhouse production of A Christmas Carol?
A fun, visual, family friendly version of the story. There is a serious side to the piece but it is colored with humor and the joy that comes from sharing happy times together with family and friends. The best example may be Marley's gospel rendition of "Change Ebeneezer" where a stage full of"back-up" Spirits dance ala Thriller style while Marley jumps up and boogies on Scrooges bed.
What's your take on Scrooge?
There is of course the side that created the expression, "Bah-humbug" but we have tried to infuse the character with a sense of humor as well. He actually enjoys making people squirm with his curmudgeonly ways.
What's it like working with children on such a classic piece?
The best! They embrace the story as if it happened yesterday. They enjoy the period costumes that they get to wear, the accents that they have to learn and the opportunity to perform alongside professional adults is an amazing experience. I always smile when I see them persevere at a line or dance step that they have been struggling with and then their face suddenly lights up when they realize that they finally got it right!
Why do you think that the story never loses its allure?
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The story gives us the opportunity to watch someone else's struggles and perhaps discover the "Christmas Spirit" within ourselves.
What was your favorite part of working on this project?
Having helped adapt the script and write the music and lyrics, there is nothing better than seeing an audience of 600 school children riveted to the stage by a serious moment in the show or see and hear them writhe and giggle hysterically at Marley's crazy dance or Spirit 2's surprise entrance. When they sit entranced and lost in the story and you could hear a pin drop then I know I have done my job! Also, not too bad that the adults are enjoying it right there with them and not looking at their watches wondering when the show will be over.
Get ready to spend a few hours with Tiny Tim, the Cratchit family, those nagging ghosts, and that loveable old curmudgeon, Scrooge. The play runs from Tuesday until December 20. Tickets cost $15. Performances will be held Saturdays at 11 a.m. with special performances on December 19 and 20 at 7 p.m. Call 305-444-9293 or visit actorsplayhouse.org.