In the last 12 years, Alley Theatre company member Chris Hutchison has been in A Christmas Carol 11 times. Multiply that by about 50 performances a year and you’re up to 550 times onstage in professional performances running through the same script.
This year Hutchison is back as Bob Cratchit, the lowly clerk who works for Ebeneezer Scrooge and tries to keep his family afloat.
“Sometimes it feels like a dream you’ve said these lines so many times," he says. "Once you’re in front of the audience, you see people who are seeing it for the first time so you reinvest yourself in it."
Working with young children has its own pluses and minuses, says Hutchinson, whose son was Tiny Tim last year (he's taking the year off this season). "At the end of the day, these are always kids — usually second grade or first grade, so they come with the expected array of concentration difficulties and erratic behavior," Hutchison said, laughing.
"Most of them are really well-directed and well-coached," he said, adding that for those rare moments of breakdown, the beauty of the Michael Wilson version of Charles Dickens's classic play is that he and other adult actors can improvise and cover any sudden moments of shyness or forgotten lines.
And yes, the money that the Alley makes from putting on the classic work helps a lot. “It enables us to do so many of the other things we do during the course of the year that are not as traditional,” Hutchison says. But there’s also its intrinsic value, he adds. “It’s great literature. It’s a great story. The holidays beg for traditions, especially with the way the world is changing.”
Performances are scheduled for November 19 through December 29 at 7:30 p.m. Mondays through Sundays and 2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays at the Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information call 713-220-5700 or visit alleytheatre.org. $30-$70.