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

From the ArkTimes store

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

  • Executionpalooza

    Appearances count. I was struck by a single sentence over the weekend in a full page of coverage in The New York Times devoted to the killing spree in Arkansas, beginning with a front-page account of the recent flurry of legal filings on pending executions and continuing inside with an interview with Damien Echols, the former death row inmate.
  • Art bull

    "God, I hate art," my late friend The Doctor used to say.
  • Not justice

    The strongest, most enduring calls for the death penalty come from those who feel deeply the moral righteousness of "eye-for-an-eye" justice, or retribution. From the depths of pain and the heights of moral offense comes the cry, "The suffering you cause is the suffering you shall receive!" From the true moral insight that punishment should fit the crime, cool logic concludes, "Killers should be killed." Yet I say: retribution yes; death penalty no.
  • Judge Griffen writes about morality, Christian values and executions

    Pulaski County Circuit Judge Wendell Griffen, who blogs at Justice is a verb!, sends along a new post this morning.
  • The Ledell Lee execution thread

    Arkansas Times contributor Jacob Rosenberg is at the Cummins Unit in Grady filing dispatches tonight in advance of the expected execution of Ledell Lee, who was sentenced to death for the Feb. 9, 1993, murder of Debra Reese, 26, who was beaten to death in the bedroom of her home in Jacksonville.

Latest in A&E Feature

Visit Arkansas

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Haralson, Smith named to Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame

Chuck Haralson and Ken Smith were inducted into the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame during the 43rd annual Governor’s Conference on Tourism

Event Calendar

« »

April

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  
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation