There is no more time-honored and cherished holiday tradition in Orange County than South Coast Repertory’s “A Christmas Carol.”
Adapted from the Charles Dickens classic story by Jerry Patch, “A Christmas Carol” has found a home at SCR for more than four decades.
SCR Founding Artist Hal Landon, Jr. originated the role of Ebenezer Scrooge in 1980, and took his final bow in December 2019.
His replacement, SCR Founding Artist Richard Doyle, had big shoes to fill, but fill them he has, and admirably. After a one-year Covid hiatus, Doyle assumed the role of the miserly curmudgeon in 2021 and received critical acclaim.
In his review of the 2021 production of “A Christmas Carol” in the NB Indy, Eric Marchese noted that “Doyle and Landon’s Scrooges contrast starkly: Landon is craggy, lanky and gaunt, Doyle is squat, his flowing gray hair rimming a bald pate. On an emotional level, the differences are more subtle. Where Landon was a taciturn curmudgeon, Doyle’s façade is less opaque, the actor more willing to offer us a wider window into Scrooge’s feelings. Not that his Scrooge isn’t bellicose. That belligerence is forceful…but as comedic are Doyle’s near double-takes at the yuletide cheeriness surrounding him, Scrooge seeing himself as a young boy generates a sharply felt, palpable nostalgia.”
Doyle certainly knows the play—he’s been it the show some 37 years and has played many of the characters, including the Ghosts of Christmas Past and Present, Fezziwig, Scrooge’s nephew Fred and both solicitors.
“This year will be slightly different, because this year, I will have an ownership of this amazing role I was charged with creating for the first time last year,” Doyle said. “Now, rather than working to make it my own, it will be my story to tell. Actors are at heart storytellers and as stories go, this is a great one.”
Hisa Takakuwa returns to direct for her second time, although her experience with the show goes back many years. She served as assistant director for 14 years and also appeared in the production for 14 more.
“I am honored to both shepherd the cherished legacy of SCR’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ and support beloved Founding Artist Richard Doyle as he continues to deepen and grow his Ebenezer Scrooge,” Takakuwa said. “I am especially excited to welcome several new cast members into the ‘A Christmas Carol’ family this year, all of whom are SCR veterans. As always, there will be a bit of new to keep it fresh for audiences, but never at the cost of the heart-warming and comforting holiday classic that so many hold as a family tradition.”
Joining Doyle in the cast of “A Christmas Carol” is Preston Maybank as Bob Cratchit (replacing longtime cast member Daniel Blinkoff), Michael Manuel (Ghost of Marley), Richard Soto (Ghost of Christmas Present), Jennifer Parsons (Ghost of Christmas Past), Melody Butiu (Mrs. Fezziwig/Solicitor), Tommy Beck (Young Scrooge), Larry Bates (Fred/Gentleman), Kelsey Bray (Mrs. Shelley/Pursued Maiden), Eduardo Enrikez (Joe, Young Marley), Michael Reese Shald (Topper), Erika Schindele (Belle), Nick Slimmer (Thomas Shelley), William Francis McGuire (Mr. Fezziwig), Elyse Mirto (Mrs. Cratchit) and Alicia Coca (Sally).
The understudies are Diana Burbano (Mrs. Fezziwig, Mrs. Cratchit, Ghost of Christmas Past and Sally) and Michael Polak (Bob Cratchit Ghost of Christmas Present, Fred, Jacob Marley).
Maybank, Bates, Enrikez, Shald, Mirto and Coca are newcomers to this year’s cast.
Noticeably missing from the cast this year is SCR Founding Artist Art Koustik, who for many years played Joe, a cider vendor who also pays handsomely for purloined clothing and other items.
The cast is joined by 16 young performers, who are divided into two eight-person teams. The teams alternate performances. The child actors are students in the SCR Theatre Conservatory who auditioned for their roles after completing at least two years in the Conservatory.
The Red Team features Justine Roussel (Martha Cratchit), Maximillian Lalli (Peter Cratchit), Maddie Chung (Belinda Cratchit), Julia Ner (Tiny Tim), ChloeLux Phan (Teen Girl About Town), Tessany Azizi (Girl About Town), Max Zazik (Boy Scrooge/Oliver Shelley) and Ben Hacker (Turkey Boy)
The Green Team features Natalie Bright (Martha Cratchit), Matthew Chan (Peter Cratchit), Anabelle Green (Belinda Cratchit), Yunah Choi (Tiny Tim), Piper Huntley (Teen Girl About Town), Ashley Hong (Girl About Town), Isaac Person (Boy Scrooge/Oliver Shelley) and Vincent Logan (Turkey Boy).
The creative team includes Thomas Buderwitz, scenic design; Dwight Richard Odle, costume design; Donna & Tom Ruzika, lighting design; Dennis McCarthy, music arrangement/composer; Drew Dalzell, sound design; Dennis Castellano, vocal director; Kelly Todd, choreographer; Joanne DeNaut, CSA, casting and Talia Krispel, production stage manager.
A Christmas Carol received generous support from Honorary Producers Julianne and George Argyros/Argyros Family Foundation of Newport Beach. The media sponsor is Orange County Register.
Tickets are now on sale and range in price from $35 to $101, with additional discounts available for children under 12.
Tickets may be purchased online at www.scr.org or by phone at (714) 708-5555.