Scrooges Over the Years
Never having intended playing a trademark character in the
tradition of many famous actors, and even having primarily played old men since
I was 17 starting my on stage career, I never expected to repeatedly play
Ebenezer Scrooge on stage across America and in Europe.
The first Scrooge came to me as a producer/director holding summer
stock auditions for the Showboat in Clinton, Iowa at SETC in Tampa, Florida. As
a producer, I hobnobbed with other producers and as a result was offered my
first Scrooge by Carolyn Rutherford and Nebraska Theatre Caravan for their East
Coast Tour that played multiple dates in Pittsburgh, New Bedford, New Haven,
and Baltimore and many, many more one night stands. I also received an offer
for Derek Meadle in Simon Gray’s Quartermaine’s Terms at Arkansas Rep as a
result of meeting Cliff Fanin Baker in Tampa.
Scrooge #2 came with Everett Hoagland III’s International
Production & Performance, Brooklyn, NY. I had met Mr. Hoagland at the
Valley Studio in Spring Green, WIS in 1974 during summer session that attracted
an international cast of teachers and students. For IP&P, I played Scrooge
and also Scottish Santa (along with 20 other “International” Santas) for the ChexMix
50th Anniversary Celebration in Bryant Park.
Scrooge #3 you ask? Result of an open call in NYC, Jere Lee
Hodgin, Mill Mt. Theatre, Roanoke, VA cast me in his original musical
adaptation (Music & Lyrics by Milton Granger) of CHRISTMAS CAROL where I
actually flew along with Christmas Past (Shelley Zipadelli). The first musical
adaptation I did (others had incidental music and Christmas carols) with the
instructions to “not sound like a screaming tenor” on the screaming tenor
lines. “Tell me did they save, did they slave, did they sacrifice, and hew to
the mark, make the clerk count each penny twice, and did they dim the lamp, brave
the damp, keep the gruel thin, and walk everywhere, save the fare, keep their trousers trim
like I did, like I fought and won, yet will none, hear my voice? No, their
noses shine, see them raid the til, see them feed like swine, grunting out good
will, Humbug!, Humbug! Humbug! Humbug! [A#] SPOKEN: Gentlemen you keep
Christmas in your own way, and, let me keep it in mine. SUNG: Then we can all
rejoice…. We can all rejoice. SPOKEN: Good day gentlemen. See reviews Scrooge #3 on Grid.
Scrooge #4 Seth Reines, who I had first worked with at
Wilson St East Dinner Playhouse, Madison, WIS in 1976, cast me as Scrooge in
Little Theatre on the Square’s first stab at a Christmas show having finally
put a proper furnace in the building. The script? Doris Baizley’s Mark Taper Forum version of Christmas Carol with a cast of nine. Premise: A late 19th century touring company has their
Scrooge and Tiny Tim go AWOL and the stage manager and prop boy must take over
the roles so the show can go on. And, the Crachit children are played by sock
puppets. Performances were added as the ticket demand was heavy for this charming,
small scale production.
Scrooge #5 American Drama Group, Munich, Germany sought a replacement for their Scrooge of many years, and, cast me. Rehearsing in NYC and starting in Munich for a November – December, five country tour, we played Christmas Carol in English with a cast of eight for audiences in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland. Oslo, Berlin [4 days] and Leipzig were my favorite stops with much Gluhwein and many continental breakfasts consumed along the way.
Scrooge #6 Little Theatre on the Square again, but with the
Sheldon Harnick / Michel LeGrand musical large cast version this time with many
children and townspeople in the cast. Shawn Pryby directed. A great deal of “Windmills
of Your Mind” inflected music in the score, and a turntable set, and light up
gravestones highlighted the show.
Scrooge #7 Smith Street Stage, Brooklyn, NY A radio play
done in radio studio style with live audience and sound effects. Jonathan
Hopkins and Beth Ann Hopkins produce and direct in the Carroll Park Fieldhouse.
Scrooge #8 Scrooge and Marley’s Christmas, special video
project, a hipster contemporary version of the counting house scene, filmed in
resale shop in Queens. Johnny Pruit, my Tiny Tim from the 2007 LTOTS Christmas
Carol, wrote the adaptation and directed and played Bob Crachit.
Scrooge #9 ???