It’s November and time for Jacob Marley’s ghost to rattle his chains and scare the bejesus out of the youngest audience members attending A Christmas Carol at the Alley Theatre. Of course the focus of the play is not Marley’s ghost – he learned his lessons too late – but the now iconic Ebenezer Scrooge, a man whose disappointments in life and love of money have curdled whatever good instincts he was born with. Alley company member Jeffrey Bean, fresh off the lead role in One Man, Two Guvnors, is playing Scrooge for at least the seventh time (he wasn’t exactly sure) and still looks forward to the annual production with anticipation. “It’s one of the great characters ever created and the story is timeless for a reason. It never ceases to amaze me that every year I’m still moved by it, the moment when he seeks redemption at the end of the play and the event of his life that led him to be the man that he was,” Bean says.
The Alley is once again using the version developed by director Michael Wilson which incorporates some lighter elements in the play and famously has the same actor play Marley and Mrs. Dilber, Scrooge’s housekeeper. “It’s a novel [by Charles Dickens] that’s being adapted to the stage it. If you just go straight from the novel it can be a bit turgid to watch,” Bean says. Company actor and frequent director James Black will direct again this year.
After all his experience with the play – Bean played the Marley/Dilber role before taking over Scrooge from Black – Bean says he doesn’t need intense rehearsal to learn his lines. “I could probably show up the day before first preview and be ready to go,” he says. But with new people in the cast and a new stage to work around, rehearsals are a necessity even for him. “We’re going to have to rejigger it because it’s much more of a thrust formation. The audience is really sitting on three sides. “ The cast is also hoping that with the improved acoustics in the renovated theater which is also a more intimate space, that they can find more nuance in the play and quiet moments, Bean says. As for all the kids involved, Bean has nothing but praise. “These kids are fantastic and well-rehearsed little pros.”
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Opening night for A Christmas Carol is November 22 and performances run through December 28. 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays and Monday December 28, 2:30 Saturdays and Sundays and Friday, November 27 and Monday December 28. No performance on Thanksgiving. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information visit alleytheatre.org or call 713- 220-5700.$26 - $116.