“A CHRISTMAS CAROL” – Now at the American Conservatory Theater

sean-martinfield-18-august-2011
Sean Martinfield
Sentinel Editor and Publisher
Photo by Lynn Imanaka

A favorite Bay Area holiday tradition, A.C.T.’s acclaimed production of the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, is playing through December 24th at the American Conservatory Theater. Adapted by Carey Perloff and Paul Walsh and directed by A.C.T. resident artist Domenique Lozano, A Christmas Carol celebrates its 35th anniversary on the A.C.T. stage and has introduced generations of Bay Area residents to the magic of live theater. The most recent version of the annual production—premiered in 2004—has garnered much critical acclaim. VIP seating is available for all performances, and VIP ticket holders enjoy the best seats in the house, a special Carol gift, and delicious treats during intermission. This year’s production has set an advance sale record, and several performances have already sold out. Early ticket purchases are recommended.

Click here to order tickets on-line: A Christmas Carol

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BEN KAHRE and JAMES CARPENTER
The Ghost of Christmas Past awakens Ebeneezer Scrooge
Production photos by Kevin Berne

“We’re hearing from parents and grandparents that the Carol experience is more important to their families now than ever. This story has particular resonance at this particular moment when issues of greed and generosity must be part of the discourse about our humanity and civility,” says A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. “We’re thrilled to continue to present this production, featuring a multigenerational cast including our very own M.F.A. Program and Young Conservatory actors, and to keep it affordable for everyone who wants to make this a part of their family holiday traditions.”

Now in its 35th year at A.C.T., A Christmas Carol is a cornerstone of the A.C.T. repertory and has become a holiday tradition for families from all around the Bay Area. Performed nearly 1,000 times to date to a collective audience of more than 800,000, A Christmas Carol has employed nearly 1,000 actors and 600 backstage staff members. “I adore this play,” says director Lozano. “It’s a thrill to work on this story, which is about community, with a community of artists for whom it is tailor-made.”

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OMOZÉ IDEHENRE and JAMES CARPENTER
The Ghost of Christmas Present encourages the miserly  Scrooge

Originated in 2004, this version of A Christmas Carol, adapted by Paul Walsh and Carey Perloff, stays true to the heart of Dickens’ timeless story of redemption and brings a playful sensibility to his rich language. Each of the four ghosts that haunt the miser Ebenezer Scrooge and lead him to his transformation is theatrically staged: a children’s favorite, Scrooge’s former business partner, Jacob Marley (Jack Willis), clad in chains, climbs out of Scrooge’s bed; the Ghost of Christmas Present (A.C.T. core acting company member Omozé Idehenre) is a Bacchic spirit of fecundity and abundance, robed in striated green velvet; the Ghost of Christmas Past (member of the A.C.T. M.F.A. Program class of 2012 Ben Kahre, in his A.C.T. mainstage debut) is inspired by a candle, “lit from within, emanating radiance, descending on a swing,” says Perloff; and the Ghost of Christmas Future is a giant black ghost puppet that takes over the entire stage of the American Conservatory Theater. Dickens’s lovely descriptions of the abundance of Christmas bounty are staged as “The Waltz of the Opulent Fruit,” with six young actors taking on the roles of French plums, Turkish figs, and Spanish onions, to the delight of audiences. Perloff adds: “Dickens believed that triggering the imagination is the key to triggering change in a person’s heart. Scrooge’s remarkable transformation is brought about by three ghosts. Ghosts! Dickens realized that if Scrooge’s imagination could be stimulated, it would be possible for him to wake up on Christmas morning an entirely new man. What an incredible endorsement of the power of art.”

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The Cratchit Family toasts Mr. Scrooge

A holiday event for audiences of all ages, A.C.T.’s A Christmas Carol features a multigenerational cast of performers led by James Carpenter as Ebenezer Scrooge. Joining Carpenter are Jack Willis as the Ghost of Jacob Marley, Scrooge’s nightmarish late-night visitor; A.C.T. core acting company member Manoel Felciano as Bob Cratchit; and Delia MacDougall as his wife, Anne Cratchit. Acclaimed Bay Area actors Jarion Monroe and Sharon Lockwood return as the ever-festive Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig, along with A.C.T. core acting company member Omozé Idehenre, who takes on the role of the jovial Ghost of Christmas Present for the first time. The adult cast also includes Cindy Goldfield, A.C.T. core acting company member Annie Purcell in her A.C.T. debut, Howard Swain, and Liam Vincent.

This beautiful production features sets by Tony Award–winning designer John Arnone (The Who’s Tommy and The Full Monty on Broadway) and period costumes by Beaver Bauer of Teatro ZinZanni. With original songs and score by composer Karl Lundeberg and choreography by Val Caniparoli of San Francisco Ballet, A Christmas Carol also features lighting design by Nancy Schertler, sound design by Jake Rodriguez, and musical direction by Robert Rutt.

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“God bless us – everyone!”

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