“A Christmas Carol” is a holiday standby that we all know and love. But you may not be familiar with the version being staged by Red Curtain in Marysville.
This rendition of Charles Dickens’ classic, directed by Beckye Randall and staging through Dec. 16 at Red Curtain Arts Center in Marysville, has a few tricks up its sleeve.
The story begins with Dickens himself — not the miserable Ebenezer Scrooge — as he’s hard at work penning his soon-to-be famous Victorian ghost story on Christmas Eve 1843 in London. Instead of the spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come, Dickens (played by Marysville resident David Henry) is visited by The Child, Dickens’ childhood spirit, who gives the audience a peek into his life, thoughts and inspirations for the tale.
The apparition leaves when Dickens’ friends and family arrive for a festive celebration. Wanting to pass the time before the anticipated feast, they ask him to tell a story. Dickens obliges, but only if they take part in telling it.
What follows is a faithful retelling of “A Christmas Carol,” which revolves around the transformation of Scrooge, though it occasionally switches back to the Dickens story line. The script is based on Michael Paller’s adaptation of the holiday classic, which Randall first read about 20 years ago.
“I always felt like it was a fun and unique version of the story that feels spontaneous and fresh,” Randall said.
Acting in the play is no small task.
There are more than 30 roles in all, which are played by a cast that includes a mix of seasoned actors, newcomers and kids from Red Curtain Foundation for the Arts’ youth classes. Some of them have as many as five roles.
The cast includes all the beloved characters from “A Christmas Carol,” such as Tiny Tim and Bob Cratchit. The roster of Dickens friends includes some historical figures from the era, such as the painter Clarkson Stanfield and the writer Mark Lemon, who founded Punch, a satirical British magazine.
Rather than try to disguise the actors’ transitions from character to character, the transformations are done transparently — just like they would have been if you were watching it play out in Dickens’ attic, Randall said.
“It allows you to stay immersed in the story, rather than a person in black coming out to change the scenery,” she said.
Leading man Henry, who also performed in Red Curtain’s “On the Verge” and “Avenue Q,” plays the two central characters: Dickens and Scrooge. His transformation into the elderly miser requires snow-white hair coloring and a fake nose.
“It’s silly looking, but at the same time, it effectively transforms him into Scrooge,” Randall said. “He’s just so talented and so charismatic. He just makes the audience feel what he’s feeling.”
The rest of the cast includes adults Ben St. Hilaire, Christopher Bartness, Andrea Miner, Brandon Tiehen, Hilary Erlandson and Sean Jancovik, and kids Trevor Glassman, Pierce Parsons and Evellyn Jeschke.
Evan Thompson: 360-544-2999, firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ByEvanThompson.
If you go
What: Red Curtain’s “A Christmas Carol”
When: Through Dec. 16, with performances at 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays
Where: Red Curtain Arts Center, 9315 State Ave., Suite J, Marysville
Tickets: $18 for adults, $15 for students, students and military personnel
More: 360-322-7402 or www.redcurtainfoundation.org