Since it was originally published in 1843, A Christmas Carol has remained a beloved holiday classic. In Fayetteville, the classic story of a man learning the true spirit of Christmas is told best by the talented actors at The Gilbert Theater. From Nov. 28 – Dec. 21, the theater will give its gift to the community with the staging of the show.
The adaptation used by The Gilbert is a classic telling of the story, though there are a few exciting and creative changes.
“This is a traditional telling of A Christmas Carol. The original Charles Dickens story was then adapted by Christopher Schario. It is written for a small number of actors so each actor plays multiple characters,” said Robyne Parrish, the artistic director of the theater. “You can do this production with eight people, but we do it with 13. It’s a challenge for the actors and I think it challenges the audience to use their imagination. We differentiate them with a hat, or a cape or a moustache. We also have a live violin player and a Foley artist — a person who makes the sound effects live. So the sounds will be created right in front of the audience.”
This year makes the 10th season that The Gilbert has produced A Christmas Carol, though only their second year with this new adaptation. This new rendition of the traditional story is ideal for the intimate space of the theater as it has a smaller set design. The major set piece, which is present throughout the story, is a child’s bed.
Parrish explains, “There’s this framing device to help tell the story. A young kid has to read A Christmas Carol for homework and all the people in his life become characters in the story. This all takes place in his room with his imagination, so his bed is there the whole time, and the story happens around it.”
The small cast is another unique aspect to this adaptation of A Christmas Carol. This falls in line with the framing device of the boy’s family members becoming characters in the story, but it also presents a challenge for the actors because they each play multiple roles. Parrish noted that this is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the play from a director’s perspective.
“I also enjoy the challenging nature of the script. Helping the actors differentiate their characters with their movements and voice, the hard characterization is the most fun for me — to discover and create these very different characters. For example, Nathan Pierce plays Bob Cratchit and the ghost of Marley. He goes from a 35-year-old guy to a 7- year-old ghost in a matter of minutes.”
While these new aspects to the story bring a certain element of excitement and intrigue, at its core this is a beautiful and traditional telling of the much-loved Dickens tale, which makes for a better celebration of the holidays by remembering the true spirit of the season.
The Gilbert Theatre is located at 116 Green St. For tickets, go to www.gilberttheater.com/box-office. The box office is also open one hour prior to the show. A Christmas Carol opens Nov. 28 and runs through Dec 21. Fridays and Saturdays there are shows at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For more information, visit www.gilberttheatre.com or call 687-7186.
Photo: Ebenezer Scrooge gets a wake-up call as The Gilbert Theater brings its Christmas classic, A Christmas Carol, to the stage.