By Jill Fales | NB Indy
South Coast Repertory will continue its holiday tradition with the opening tomorrow night of “A Christmas Carol,” marking the 31st annual incarnation of this holiday classic at SCR.
The by-now-legendary Hal Landon Jr. will of course play Scrooge. John-David Keller will once again direct and play Mr. Fezziwig. Regulars Richard Doyle, Art Koustik, Jennifer Parsons, Daniel Blinkoff and Timothy Landfield are back, as well.
And joining the cast this year is 9-year-old Newport Beach resident Tessa Taylor, who will be playing the role of Tiny Tim.
Being cast in one of the coveted roles of the Cratchit children is not only an honor, but an enormous commitment. Rehearsals have been held six afternoons a week for more than a month. Tessa will perform in 17 shows – half the run. There is a second cast of children that perform in the other half of the shows.
Taylor’s mom described the audition as rigorous and intense. “They worked very hard, but it was very fun.”
The kids had to do everything from answering questions such as imagining what kind of family pet the Cratchits should have, or have to do a scene on the spot. It took several hours. Of the audition, Tessa said it was “kind of like a fairy tale. Just really fun.”
When she got a call back, Taylor said she had “mixed emotions.”
“I was happy and nervous,” she recalled.
But when she found out she was cast as Tiny Tim, she was very excited.
“It was a Saturday and we don’t check our voicemail that much so it was lucky that we checked it that day.”
Alicia Taylor says it’s been a “wonderful, wonderful experience” for her daughter and she is keeping a journal throughout the process.
Tessa says she has learned a lot and made new friends. Among them is Dan Blinkoff, who plays her father, Bob Cratchit.
“He is the best actor – when it comes to feelings especially,” says Tessa. “Like in the sad scenes he really cries. He really feels it.”
Tessa, who has been taking classes at SCR for 3 years, says the biggest challenge in playing the role of Tiny Tim has not been being a boy, but been being a part of a big family.
“It was hard for me because I have no brothers at sisters and I had to get in the habit that this is my family.”
“Director John-David Keller helped me so much. Instead of each of us saying one line at a time, he taught me that it goes, line, line, line, line, line… like a real family that fights for [their turn to speak]. It’s more natural.”
Tessa then adds, “JD is amazing. I could not picture doing the show without him.”
For his part, Keller makes it a mutual admiration society, saying of Tessa, “She’s a charmer! And she has the best disposition in the world.”