In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 46: Learn how perennial Scrooge Philip Pleasants, who also plays three roles in “Hamlet,” grew up performing Shakespeare scenes with his mother in their living room. “A Christmas Carol” plays through Dec. 29 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
Coming next: Meet Philip Pleasants of “A Christmas Carol.”
Kathleen M. Brady, shown above appearing in the Denver Center’s world premiere production of “Mama Hated Diesels” in 2010, is currently appearing “A Christmas Carol.”
By John Moore
Kathleen M. Brady, a beloved member of the Denver Center Theatre Company since 1987, will make her debut at the Arvada Center in Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap,” opening Jan. 28.
The cast also features Colin Alexander, who is right now appearing alongside Brady through Dec. 29 in the Denver Center’s “A Christmas Carol”; and John Arp, who was in the ensemble of the Denver Center’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” and has understudied for several other shows.
In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 45: Kathleen M. Brady, who has been a beloved member of the Denver Center Theatre Company since 1987. Find out where she likes to have breakfast, where she goes when she wants to get off the beaten track, and how her life was changed by Shirley Temple — and when the cows got loose. Kathleen is playing several roles in “A Christmas Carol” through Dec. 29 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 20 seconds.
Coming next: Meet Philip Pleasants of “A Christmas Carol.”
By John Moore
Veteran Denver Center Theatre Company actor Leslie O’Carroll has appeared in 15 productions of “A Christmas Carol,” most often as jolly Mrs. Fezziwig. That’s ballpark 600 performances.
So who better to take on the challenge of performing Charles Dickens’ classic tale of redemption as a solo piece … and in just five minutes? Plus, there’s that name … O’Carroll. Leslie was just born to one day star in “A Christmas O’Carroll.”
That day is now.
The youngest “A Christmas Carol” cast members surprised Denver Center for the Performing Arts Chairman Daniel L. Ritchie last night by presenting him giant handmade card at the company holiday party. The kids storyboarded the plot of “A Christmas Carol” as 15 separate chapters. Photo by John Moore.
"A Christmas Carol" runs through Dec. 29 on the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org.
The kids above, clockweise from far left:Max Raabe, Gabriel Koskinen-Sansone, Charlie Korman, Isaiah Johnson, Edwin Harris, Tanner Gardner, Connor Nguyen Erickson, Sam Modesitt, Thomas Russo and (in front) Amelia Modesitt and Tricia Moreland.
You know what I was thinking before the opening performance of “A Christmas Carol”? It’s too bad these kid actors are so darned shy. Clockwise from center, that’s Max Raabe (nephew, I found out last night, of longtime Denver Post reporter Steve Raabe), Sam Modesitt, Edwin Harris and Connor Nguyen Erickson.
"A Christmas Carol" is the featured opening in John Moore’s year-long 2013 photo series, “It’s Opening Night in Colorado Theatre.” The photo above is the one that will join the other 144 productions (to date) in his series.
In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 42: Charlie Korman may only be 9 years old (as a human), but he has been an actor for 8 of them. And if you include his past lives, has been around for — literally — millions of years. Curious? Listen in. Charlie is again playing Tiny Tim in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s holiday engagement of “A Christmas Carol” through Dec. 29 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 2 minutes, 25 seconds.
Coming next: Meet Stephanie Cozart, husband Douglas Harmsen and their infant daughter, Gwendolyn — two of whom appear in “A Christmas Carol.”
Here’s a montage by videographer Ken Mostek showing you a sneak preview of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “A Christmas Carol,” which opens Thursday and plays through Dec. 29 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center’s ticketing page.
Although only 10, Charlie Korman (Tiny Tim) is about to perform in his fourth “A Christmas Carol” for the Denver Center Theatre Company. Photo by John Moore.
By John Moore
Tuesday was the first day of rehearsal for A Christmas Carol, which is being staged for the 21st time by the Denver Center Theatre Company. It opens Nov. 29 in the Stage Theatre.
This version, adapted by Richard Hellesen, again stars Philip Pleasants as Scrooge, with Mike Hartman (“Death of a Salesman”) as his understudy. The cast includes John Hutton as the ghost of Jacob Marley, Phamaly Theatre Company veteran Leonard E. Barrett Jr. as the ghost of Christmas Present, Charlie Korman as Tiny Tim, Leslie O’Carroll as Mrs. Fezziwig, and familiar names including Kathleen M. Brady, Douglas Harmsen, Stephanie Cozart, Jeffrey Roark, Michael Bouchard, Jake Walker and Benjamin Bonenfant. (The complete list follows.) In all, the cast numbers 37.
by Douglas Langworthy for Applause magazine
Dickens had a way with names. They were much more than personal identifiers for him; they were expressions of a character’s personality, often served up with a comic twist: Sloppy, Wopsie, Bumble, Polly Toodle, the Squeers, Uriah Heep, Pumblechook—and on and on. In A Christmas Carol, the name Scrooge, with its initial twisted clump of consonants and long dark vowels, sounds like what the word has come to mean: a miserly, mean-spirited grump.
On the other side of the holiday tale’s name game is Tiny Tim, whose moniker, with those three short syllables, speaks not only of fragility but of hope. But the name that hits the Dickensian jackpot has to be Fezziwig, the family that hosts everyone’s favorite Christmas party—a cornucopia brimming with food, drink, dance and song. Hard to say without smiling, “Fezziwig” suggests champagne bubbles, giddiness, activity, festivity and merriment—in short, the Christmas spirit.
In the Denver Center’s perennial production of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, with its humor, fright, spectacle, song, dance and cast of thousands (large cast anyway), the Fezziwig’s party is a highlight of raucous and buoyant fun. Watch the young Scrooge celebrate his engagement with Belle. Enjoy the revelers as they take a spin around the dance floor. Then follow this timeless tale of Yuletide redemption to its happy end, when stingy old Scrooge is finally filled with the generous Fezziwigian spirit of Christmas.
Literary Manager, Denver Center Theatre Company
by Teri Downard for Applause magazine
As the Denver Center Theatre Company again celebrates Christmas with its annual presentation of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, this may be a good time to ponder the seemingly endless popularity of Dickens’ “ghostly little book”—what it has to say… and what we never tire of hearing.
Arrogant, condescending, caustic and acquisitive, Ebenezer Scrooge may be the very template of corporate greed. His disposition is not improved by the fact that he also is a self-serving careerist and a penny-pinching, unprepossessing old skinflint.
OK, maybe going through life with a name that sounds like a bad head cold can’t have been easy, but you have to admit the guy’s a bad seed; a prime specimen of Hominid Horribilis. Nevertheless, Ebenezer Scrooge is a Christmas star, albeit an unlikely one. But then, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is an unlikely tale. Filled with ghosts, lost love, an ill and possibly dying child, societal desperation, institutionalized poverty, loneliness and at least four of the Seven Deadly Sins, it is not your typical jolly holiday fare. It’s just that it also happens to be the most popular Christmas fiction-turned-stage-production of the past 168 years.
Why do we love it so?
Perhaps it’s because, to paraphrase Walt Kelly’s comic-strip character Pogo, “We have met the reprobate and he is us.” Now there’s a creepy thought. And yet, think of it. If an old toad like Scrooge can be redeemed, there may be hope for this world yet.
The annual journey with Scrooge through his icy winter of the soul takes place at the darkest time of the year. The short, bleak days and long cold nights are filled with the frenzied busyness of the Christmas Machine at full throttle, ever more frantic, ever more commercialized. And yet…and yet, something “other” is in the air. We feel it. We understand it on a level beyond words. It has no consort with seasonal revelry or the last-minute frenzy of web and catalogue buying. It is more complicated than that. Quieter. Deeper.
So off we go with Scrooge into the world of the spirit, juggling all of our attendant baggage. This yearly trek may be as close as most of us will ever get to a true pilgrimage. With Scrooge we step upon the tightrope where we find ourselves on the horns of a dilemma. We must either accept the world as is—to our own detriment if not demise—or we must create a new version. We have a clear, if Scroogian view of our own past, present and future. We face off with the ghosts of our own making. This is powerful stuff. Charles Dickens knew it. Generations come and gone have known it. And we—in our technology driven, sleep-deprived, market-analyzed, deadline-crazed, social-mediated, terror-riddled society—know it too.
Dickens used his story to expose genteel Victorian England’s outrageous disregard for those who had the bad sense to be born into the wrong “class.” He railed against a system that entrapped millions and drove them to a life of poverty, workhouses and degradation. Surely he thought he had witnessed the worst that human beings could perpetrate on their fellow beings. Hmm. Those of us living at the beginning of this turbulent 21st century know better.
Dickens, however, was not interested in delivering just another account of the battle between Good and Evil. In A Christmas Carol, Evil is not temporarily outwitted only to skitter off to a dank festering corner where it can morph into another, more virulent, form.
Rather, Dickens dared to explore how Evil could be transformed into Goodness. He makes it clear that humans are built for the long haul. Ultimately, we cannot sow the seeds of our own destruction because—and only because—we possess the capability of being transformed. It’s a standard feature, direct from the factory. For every Scrooge that mocks mankind’s better angels, there is a Bob Cratchit, a Belle, a Tiny Tim and a dear old Fezziwig.
We human beings may inflict unspeakable destruction upon our fellows and the planet, but we also can do other things: dream, hope, imagine, explore, change and grow. We are grateful for second chances. We even embrace them. A Christmas Carol is a year-end reminder of all that we are and all that we can be.
We have met the believer, and he is us. Why do we love A Christmas Carol? Because it is true.
Teri Downard is a Denver-based writer on the arts.