Robin Downward believes there’s a little bit of Ebenezer Scrooge in all of us.
“We all want redemption, and we all want to find out there’s more to life than work,” he says.
The connection audiences have with the characters and themes of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is why the story has thrived for more than 170 years, Downward adds.
“Weaving music through the classic tale of Scrooge’s reconciliation with Christmases past, present and future and his transformation from curmudgeon to Mr. Congeniality makes it an even more wonderful story.”
As artistic director of the Randall Theatre, Downward chose the newest musical version of the perennial stage production for the company’s holiday show.
“A Christmas Carol, The Musical” opens at 7 p.m. Friday, Dec. 14, at Randall Theatre, 20 S. Fir St., Medford. The show runs through Sunday, Dec. 30, with 7 p.m. performances Saturday, Dec. 15, Thursdays through Saturdays, Dec. 20-22 and Dec. 27-29, and 2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 16, 23 and 30.
Reserved seating is $22 and can be purchased at randalltheatre.com or by calling 541-632-3258. Any tickets not sold will be available at the door on a pay-what-you-can basis.
Based on Dickens’ 1843 novella, “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” premiered in late 1994 at the Paramount Theatre in New York City’s Madison Square Garden. Each December, the production was rolled out and performed during the holidays until 2003. Since then, the show has become a favorite with touring companies and local theater troupes during the holiday season.
Downward concedes that most people have seen “A Christmas Carol” in some form — from The Muppets to a classic stage drama — but what sets this version apart, he says, “is the beautiful music. The songs are great.”
Randall Theatre has presented the Dickens story as told in “Scrooge! The Musical” twice.
“As much as I love the older version, much of the action in ‘Scrooge’ comes through dialogue, but this production of ‘A Christmas Carol” has more songs,” he says.
The songs were written by Alan Menken, with lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. Menken is best known for his many scores to Disney films, including “The Little Mermaid,” “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin.”
For those rare folks unfamiliar with the story, “A Christmas Carol” centers on money-lender Ebenezer Scrooge, a man who has spent a lifetime building a fortune based on his belief that personal wealth is more valuable than happiness and comfort. A resounding “Bah! Humbug!” sums up his feelings about Christmas tidings and charitable giving. But one Christmas Eve, the prosperous curmudgeon is visited by three ghosts who force him to face his selfish ways by leading him through his past, present and future. Thanks to their guidance, Scrooge realizes his faults and greets Christmas morning with a cheerful “Happy Christmas” before spending the day reconnecting and sharing love with those that mean the most to him.
This production has a twist. The ghosts are seen as other characters early in the play, and Scrooge is mean-spirited to them.
“There’s a debate about the story,” Downward says. “Is Scrooge dreaming or do the ghosts really come and take him away to places? Since he’s seen them earlier, you wonder if he’s dreaming. They also come back at the end of the show as regular, non-ghost people.”
Trevor Pekas plays Scrooge.
“I’m finding immense satisfaction in feeling the drastic change that Scrooge experiences,” Pekas says. “There’s more to the character than many people realize. He has his reasons for how he is. Just like any of us, he was shaped by circumstance. But he is taught the importance of joy versus complacency.”
Ella Rose Schaefer, who plays Mrs. Fezziwig, is enjoying the switch from comedy to a story with more emotional depth.
“I love being a part of a musical with such a wide emotional range,” she says. “That makes it not only fun for the actor to perform, but also intriguing and complex for an audience to watch.”
Paul Cosca is both director and musical director of “A Christmas Carol: The Musical.” Alissa Larson choreographed the show.
Kaiya Bagley plays the Ghost of Christmas Past, Austin Kelly is the Ghost of Christmas Present and Courtney Gage is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Be. David Eisenberg appears as Marley’s Ghost. The rest of the cast includes Sage Ashley as Emily and an ensemble in multiple roles.
Cameron Weiland is featured as Tiny Tim.
“I like playing Tiny Tim ‘cause he’s a sweet little boy that everyone cares about,” Weiland says. “He doesn’t let his illness get in the way of having a great Christmas. I like that the show is realistic and not cheesy. The music is really good, and I love to sing the songs!”
Tammy Asnicar is a freelance writer living in Grants Pass. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.