|Playing the lead roles in Vintage Theatre's A Christmas Carol are Klaya Hodgson-Stock as Tiny Tim, (Doug Brown as Bob Cratchit, Stephen Jefferys as Scrooge and Ray Mordan as Marley.|
And of course, watching again and again, the performance of a Christmas tradition, A Christmas Carol starring the dastardly curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge.
Although the story has been retold and performed countless times, it still resonates with everyone at this special time of year, underpinning the true meaning of the season and pointing out what really matters in life.
Penned by English author Charles Dickens, the story was first published in 1843 and will be brought to the stage on Dec. 19 this year by the players of New Vintage Theatre, under the direction of founder Bonnie Gratz.
The Victorian saga of a bitter and miserly man, transformed one magical night into a warm and caring soul, will see Stephen Jefferys take the lead role, along with Ray Mordan as the ghostly Jacob Marley and Doug Brown as the over-worked Cratchit. The role of poor little Tiny Tim will be played by Klayla Hodgson.
Jefferys has played Scrooge four times in his 40 years in theatre, and interestingly, was the first role the non-veteran actor took on.
"I was a second or third year med student back in the early '60s and this was part of a hospital skit we were putting together," Jeffreys recalled. "It was loosely based on a professor we had and didn't much care for.
"Since then, I've played Scrooge in an outdoor production put on by Neal Facey. That was very cold, and I ended up with bronchitis. Then I did Scrooge again about 10 years ago with a readers' theatre. Luckily, this production is indoors and in a very suitable setting."
The show will take place in the historic Laurel Packing House, which will add a perfect ambiance with rustic beams and set the stage for the addition of a Victorian crafters' marketplace.
As well, audiences can have a chat with special guest "Charles Dickens," who will be available before the show to answer questions about his life and times, the story and his writings.
"The Laurel is a lovely area, and because of its size, it's a more intimate setting and the audience will be close enough to the characters to see their expressions clearly," said Jefferys. "There are some acoustic challenges, but that means we'll just have to speak slowly and distinctly."
He added the role of the greedy Scrooge is rewarding, and each time he takes it on, he finds more elements to the character.
"It's always delicious to play the bad guy and Scrooge is a nasty piece of work," he said. "But he's also more complex than people give him credit for. He's had a miserable time of it as a young boy; he was left alone and deprived. So as a man, he discovered money and became greedy. Money was used as a replacement for all the things he didn't have in his life."
Referring to the time period of the play, Stephens noted Dickens was a great author, insightful and keenly aware of human needs and the "great inequalities of his time."
A Christmas Carol addresses those differences, while showing how a person, even a nasty one like Scrooge, can be turned about, with a little bit of help from ghostly visitors.
"It's his redemption, changing from an evil and horrible man, into someone completely different that makes him a complex and interesting character to play," he said.
The holiday classic is a family hit each year, and promises to bring the spirit of the season into everyone's heart.
Vintage Theatre is a new theatre group created by Gratz almost two years ago and welcomes all who are interested in the art of acting and writing plays to become involved with the group and also the "playwright circle."
"We're a very young company and we like to use a variety of venues for our productions," Gratz noted, including local wineries and other heritage venues like Benvoulin Church.
"We've held monthly readings at the Pulp Fiction Cafe, and we like to share our ideas with like-minded artists. We do workshops too, to build skills in acting."
Mounting A Christmas Carol is a work of love, and it has been purposefully kept "accessible" with low ticket prices and geared to bringing families in to "celebrate the spirit of Christmas with us."
"It really is a delightful story, following Scrooge and Marley into the past, present and future as he discovers the true meaning of love, family and Christmas."
What: A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, presented by New Vintage Theatre.
When: Dec. 17 - 21, with evening shows at 7:30 p.m. Family matinee on Dec. 21 at 2:30 p.m., with special pre-show activities for the kids, and a surprise arrival of Santa.
Where: Laurel Packinghouse, 1304 Ellis St.
Tickets: Available at Prospera box office, 250-762-5050, selectyourtickets.com.