The Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” is returning to Valley Center Stage’s (VCS) for its 12th season.
“A Christmas Carol” is a heartwarming and timeless story of joyful redemption.The wealthy, bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, encounters three spirits by the force of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who show him what he was before his success, what he has since become and what he could become.
Directed by Tony Leininger, “A Christmas Carol” will be his directorial debut at VCS. As an actor in last year’s production, Leininger said he’s excited to direct it this year.
Using the script adapted by former VCS “A Christmas Carol” directors, Brenden and Wynter Elwood, Leininger said he’s shifted the vision of the play.
“It’s a different vision of the same story,” he said. “We’re bringing it back to its original setting in the U.K. and some of the original dances.”
Part of Leininger’s vision includes having the entire performance be on stage. In previous productions of the same play, Leininger said the cast used the whole theater as a stage, with characters walking offstage and interacting with the audience.
“The way we’re telling the story is different,” he said. “Before, I think the audience couldn’t really see what Scrooge was feeling and experiencing as he saw his past and present because he was in the audience. Now, he’ll be on stage for almost the entire play and the audience will be able to really see how it affects and changes him.”
This year’s production includes other changes as well. The Cratchit family will be performed by a real family.
April Davis stars as Mrs. Cratchit. She said rehearsing for the show has been a great experience for her and her family.
“We get to rehearse at home and spend time together,” she said. “Also, I think our performance will have a more natural feel because we are a real family and we bring that relationship to the stage.”
Despite the chaos of 22 cast members playing some 60 roles with four to five costume changes for each character, members of the cast have enjoyed being a part of the production.
Craig Ewing has been a part of VCS for the past 15 years and has starred in almost every production of “A Christmas Carol.” He is starring as Old Joe, as well as a few smaller roles. He said this is the most organized production he’s worked on.
“Everything’s so detailed and organized,” Ewing said. “It’s the little touches that flesch out Tony’s vision.”
For Tim Platt, this is his third time playing Ebenezer Scrooge at VCS. He said he tries to make his performance fresh each year.
“I always try to reimagine the story from the beginning,” he said. “I try to experience like if it were for the first time and just react to the other actors.”
Platt also said he tries to break away from the cliche of the exceptionally bitter “Bah Humbug!” Scrooge.
“I’m trying to de-Scrooge Scrooge in a way,” he said. “I’m trying to work in a little humor and show a little more humanity in his character.”
Portraying Scrooge is an honor, Platt said.
“Everyone waits for Scrooge to wake up the following morning with redemption. I think everyone can identify with that feeling that they can change and be redeemed,” he said. “I work hard to deliver that moment to the audience. I have a responsibility to the people in the audience, to have them experience that moment.”
“A Christmas Carol” opens Nov. 29 and ends on Dec. 21 with 14 performances. For tickets, go to tinyurl.com/vgqy8em.