Favorite

Rep redeems Scrooge 

In a staging of 'A Christmas Carol, The Musical.'

ae_feature1-1.jpg

A common thread runs through Alan Souza's directorial efforts at The Rep: fallen men who redeem themselves, and in a flashy musical format, no less. Souza made his Arkansas Rep debut with last season's holiday production of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," so it's fitting that he returns this year with another Christmas tale of redemption — "A Christmas Carol, the Musical."

A cast of 19 adults and six children sing and dance their way through the musical telling of Charles Dickens' classic novella about everyone's favorite Christmas curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge (played by David Benoit) and his ghost-aided epiphany. The Rep's production will be a slightly remodeled version of New York's extravaganza that played annually at Madison Square Garden for a decade.

"This piece was made as big holiday entertainment to compete in New York City with Radio City Music Hall's show," Souza said of the original. "So I think one of our challenges is trying to get to the heart of a story that's been told in so many ways, and still bring all of the giant entertainment values, including costumes and surprises and scariness and thrills and all of those bells and whistles."

With lyrics by Lynn Ahrens (the writer and lyricist behind Broadway's "Ragtime," "Seussical" and some of the tunes from "Schoolhouse Rock!"), and music by Disney legend Alan Menken, the "musical" part of the production is sure to be a thrill for audiences — especially families.

"He writes beautiful, sweeping ballads," Benoit said of Menken's original score, written for the New York stage. "He writes good pastiche numbers, such as 'Abundance and Charity.' It's along the lines of 'Beauty and the Beast.' "

Though the tale comes from Dickens and the book (written by Ahrens and Mike Ockrent) and music from Broadway, the sets and costumes will be very much original to The Rep. "One of the beautiful things about a regional theater like this is that this production is being made for this theater. Everything that we chose with the designers and with the staff is for this production," Souza said. That includes the Victorian Industrial period-inspired set, conceived by resident set designer Mike Nichols, as well as the fantastical costumes, products of Michael Bottari and Ronald Case. "We're saying it will be 'Beetlejuice' meets 'Night of the Living Dead' meets 'A Christmas Carol,' " Souza said, laughing.

Ryan G. Dunkin plays Jacob Marley, the famous chain-rattling apparition who sends the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future to Scrooge in the night. Dunkin said his glow-in-the-dark costume helps him feel like the frightening apparition: "All of the chains are fake, but there's actually weight to them, so it does bring you down a little bit. And I get to be scary, which is fun."

Benoit transforms from a teddy bear of a man into his grizzled, harsh character when he dons a ritzy cape and top hat, and scowls to accentuate the hard lines drawn on his face. "I love a good villain. Everyone loves a good nasty Grinch, and he has some very funny lines," Benoit said of Scrooge. "But I actually don't see him as a villain; I see him as a victim of circumstance. I want to humanize him. Everything he's ever touched, whether it be his mom, his dad, his sister, his fiance — it's all been taken away from him so it's easier to shut down and hold on to the one thing he can, which is the money and material things. All the experiences in his life caused him to shut down out of self-preservation," Benoit said of his character.

Dickens' tale "really is a story about redemption and the choices that we make to open ourselves up or close ourselves off based on what happens to us. It's about how we find that Christmas spirit in our hearts every single year, or in the case of Scrooge, at all."

Favorite

Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Blair Tidwell

  • Somewhere, over The Rep

    Theatergoers won't have trouble easing on down the road of The Rep's newest production, "The Wiz." The musical's yellow brick road may have a few potholes, but viewers will be so enchanted by the song and dance, they'll barely notice.
    • Mar 14, 2012
  • Spring on the stage

    'The Wiz,' Shakespeare Festival highlight the season.
    • Mar 7, 2012
  • Spring Arts 2012

    Your guide to upcoming art, movies, music and theater.
    • Mar 7, 2012
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Shared

  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Rapert compares Bill Clinton to Orval Faubus

    Sen. Jason Rapert (R-Conway)  was on "Capitol View" on KARK, Channel 4, this morning, and among other things that will likely inspire you to yell at your computer screen, he said he expects someone in the legislature to file a bill to do ... something about changing the name of the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Latest in A&E Feature

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation