Ebenezer Scrooge can change in a year.
True, Charles Dickens’ time span was a single night, which prompted Scrooge to make a few quick decisions that resulted in change.
But cast members in Baton Rouge Little Theater’s holiday production of A Christmas Carol have had a year to reflect on Dickens’ story. Now they’re looking at him a little differently.
“We are seeing some new things about Scrooge,” Keith Dixon said. “We’re seeing why he’s become the person he is. He’s afraid of becoming a certain kind of person, but he becomes another in the course of his life. But he has a chance to fix it.”
And he will, as he always does at the end of Dickens’ story, which the theater will open on Friday, Dec. 7. This will be Baton Rouge Little Theater’s second year to stage the show, and Dixon is its director.
“We have most of the same cast as last year with a few changes,” he said. “Our Tiny Tim from last year grew taller, so we had to replace him. We have a girl playing Tiny Tim this year.”
Her name is Virginia Moore.
“She is wonderful,” Dixon said.
Mike Katchmer returns in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, and Davis Hotard once again will play Bob Cratchit.
But two of the notably happiest characters in this production have to be Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig, again played by Lee Allen and Kelly Martin.
Mr. Fezziwig is Scrooge’s boss in Scrooge’s younger days. Mr. Fezziwig closes shop early on Christmas Eve and invites guests into his place of business for a party.
And if this one scene doesn’t spark Christmas spirit in the Scroogiest of Scrooges that may be sitting in the audience, well, then nothing will, because this is a scene of genuine happiness.
Everyone truly is happy to be there, happy to be together, happy that it’s Christmas.
“I love that scene,” Martin said. “It shows what Christmas is all about.”
It also shows something more.
“It’s a small part, but the smaller parts are what give Scrooge depth,” Martin said. “The Fezziwigs’ party is a Technicolor moment in his life. What the audience sees of Scrooge’s life is in black and white up until that time. But the spirits show us these colorful moments during the story, and these moments tell us that happiness doesn’t come from money. Well, money can’t give us happiness alone. But when we remember back at the things that make us happy, it’s the smaller moments.”
For those who still may be unfamiliar with Dickens’ story, Scrooge is a wealthy man who doesn’t stop to celebrate Christmas. Money is everything to him, and he is visited by the ghost of his late business partner, Jacob Marley, on Christmas Eve.
Marley says three spirits will visit Scrooge during the night: the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
It’s the last spirit that haunts Scrooge most, prompting Scrooge to ask if it’s too late to change.
And it’s never too late. Not for Scrooge, anyway. He awakes on Christmas morning as genuinely happy as were the Fezziwigs at that long ago party.
“We’re adding a set this year to show that iconic scene,” Dixon said. “It’s when Scrooge looks out the window and throws money down to a passing boy and asks him to pick up a turkey at the butcher’s. We’re adding the outside of Scrooge’s house, so we can have him looking out the window.”
Some special effects also have been added.
“It’s a show that’s going to grow as we continue to stage it in the years to come,” Dixon said.
But some scenes will never change, the Fezziwigs’ party for one. That’s where young Scrooge meets his love Belle. That is, before he trades his love of her for money.
And it’s the scene where he makes his decision that really tells the story of how Scrooge the miser came to be.
“He and Belle are standing in the park, and they see a homeless woman,” Martin said. “Scrooge asks Belle if that’s what she wants in life, to be alone without money.”
“They turn away from each other,” Dixon added. “And then a man walks into the park, and he and the woman embrace. He’s the woman’s husband, and they’re happy to see each other. Belle sees this, but Scrooge doesn’t. And it shows that this is what Belle wants, but Scrooge rejects it.”
Trouble is, Scrooge doesn’t realize what he’s rejected until it’s too late. Or is it too late?
No, he doesn’t win back Belle.
But he does rediscover the meaning of Christmas.
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