What’s a Toledo holiday season without the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol?
The Toledo Repertoire Theatre will give us our annual holiday treat when it presents the traditional favorite tomorrow through Sunday at the Valentine Theatre.
The Rep has had lots of practice in staging it. The organization’s archives indicate that A Christmas Carol premiered during the 1985-86 season, board member Elizabeth Cottle said in an email. In seasons 1983-84 and 1984-85, Mr. Scrooge, a musical comedy based on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, was offered.
But from the 1985-86 season to today, A Christmas Carol has been the organization’s holiday staple. This season marks its 29th performance, Cottle added. Over the years, it has been presented at the Rep’s 10th Street Stage, the Peristyle, the Stranahan Theater, and now the Valentine Theatre, 400 N. Superior St.
Costumes, choreography, and music have been adjusted over the years, but Dickens’ story is still its heart: A cold, uncaring but wealthy man, Ebenezer Scrooge, is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve to show him his past, present, and future. He is taught what’s really important in life, and has a chance to mend his ways just in time for Christmas.
The Rep’s cast numbers almost 100, and the show includes singing, music, and actors in creative costumes. Paul Causman portrays Scrooge, Gabe Omlor is Tiny Tim, Jeff Albright is Marley, and Barbara Barkan appears as Christmas Past.
The show is based on the original Dickens classic and revised by director Debra Ross Calabrese, who has been involved with the Rep’s version in various capacities since 1987, David Jex, who directs the orchestra, and James M. Norman, who was responsible for the most recent costume facelift, Cottle said.
Scott Heuerman, producer and assistant director this year, also has participated in several productions.
During its decades-long run, the Rep’s production has become a family tradition for audiences as well as performers, Cottle said. Many Rep actors got their start as children in A Christmas Carol, and generations of families have appeared on stage together, singing Christmas songs. And in 1999, when the production first was at the Valentine, there was a wedding on stage between the Sunday matinee and evening performance.
The show’s director has her own take on Dickens’ story.
“I think I always approach it as a timeless story of man’s life journey of survival and redemption,” Calabrese wrote in an email. “Scrooge was sent to boarding school as a very young boy, probably because his dad blamed him for his mother’s death while giving birth to him. The only one that loved him was his sister, who died young and had one son, Fred. Protecting himself from being hurt and abandoned,[Scrooge] pushes everyone away and turns to money for comfort. There is so much more!”
Performances of “A Christmas Carol” are at 8 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $27 general admission, $22 for ages 65 and older, and $17 for ages 18 and younger; to purchase, call the Valentine Theatre box office at 419-242-2787, or go to valentinetheatre.com.
Following Sunday’s performance at the Valentine, the Rep will offer “the Feast of Christmas Present” from 5 to 8 p.m. at Manhattan’s Restaurant, 1516 Adams St. The fund-raiser will include a buffet, raffles, silent auction, and live music.
Proceeds will benefit the Rep. Tickets are $20, in advance by calling Manhattan’s at 419-243-6675 or online at http://bit.ly/IJDeIR. Tickets also will be available at the door for $25. For more information call Eric Hillenbrand at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-290-8839.
Send theater items two weeks in advance to Sue Brickey at email@example.com.