This year at New Stage Theatre, "A Christmas Carol" has a new concept. Everything is different, but the script is the same. There is more detail than ever, and veteran set designer and director Sam Sparks is directing it for the first time.
There are more songs, and the crew has added dance to the production. You'll hear jazz and gospel music throughout the show, accompanying an even greater number of Christmas carols. Laura Hastings brings the emotions of loss, hope and hurt together as she sings "What Child Is This." Hastings plays Old Sara, Belle and Mrs. Cratchit.
This year's show is like a play within a play, in that the characters are street people playing their roles in Dickens' play.
Hastings says, "It's really neat because you get a different take on it. Instead of it being ritzy, you get more of a reality."
For example, in contrast to the ordinary lavish set, this one features a dumpster along with other street pieces of urban life.
"It doesn't turn from street into this big fancy setting," Hastings explains. "That's the magic of it."
Bill Ford Campbell plays Scrooge, and he adds energy to the show. His body language is animated, and he steps all the way into character. In the beginning, he's asleep in the street. Another homeless person hands him his hat, and he becomes Scrooge.
Turner Crumbley, 27, plays David, the narrator who is also a street person. "There's sort of a community thing that is involved in this version that has been absent," Crumbley says. The homeless are more involved. The concept, staging, and design are just as much about the narrator and street people as they are Scrooge.
"We're trying to say that the story is about life's missed opportunities, and you're not going through this alone," Sparks, the director says. "We all experience mishaps and we're experiencing this together as a community."
Crumbley's voice sets the tone. It feels like you're listening to one of the greatest storytellers tell a famous story. "It's still the same carol, but it's got a lot more texture than the productions in years past," he says.
The acting experience in the cast ranges from amateur to professional. For some actors, this is their 14th season to performthis play, while for others this is their second or third. This makes Sparks' directorial communication different to each performer because of differing experience.
The other performers in the show include: Dianne Brown as Mrs. Fezziwig/Mrs. Dilber, Chris Roebuck as 2nd Solicitor/Christmas Present, Jessica Wilkinson as Kate, James Anderson as Marley/Fezziwig/Old Joe, Matt Ward as Cratchit, Will Hickman as Fred, Michael Guidry as Willie/Ebenezer/Topper/Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, Will Kennedy as Tiny Tim, Roshell McKevie as Christmas Past, David Pigott as Dick, Davis Gunter as Mr. Pip, Nick Judin as Blind Man, Travis Hodges and Jordan White as Mankind's children, Max Palmer as 1st Man, Julian Preston is playing Peter Cratchit, Eliza Neely as Belinda, Kyla Smith as Suzanne and Michelle Jackson as Martha.
The show runs Dec. 2-18 for a 19-performance run. Curtain times for the performances are Thursday-Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. for the Sunday matinees. There aren't any performances on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. Two additional matinees have been added on Dec. 10 and 17 at 2 p.m.
Ticket prices are $18 for adults, $15 for students and seniors, $10 for children 12 and under and $12 for groups of 20 or more. There is also a special family package for $50. This includes two tickets for adults and two for children.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the New Stage box office at 601-948-3531 or online at http://www.newstagetheatre.com.