Draper Historic Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ is a family tradition
Nov 19, 2018 03:10PM
● By Katherine Weinstein
Draper Historic Theatre once again presents their original, musical version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
Charles Dickens’ novella “A Christmas Carol” was published Dec. 19, 1843. Within six weeks of its publication, it was turned into a stage play in London and opened in New York City shortly thereafter. Countless stage versions of the story, including musical adaptations, have been performed in theaters all over the world ever since. This month, Draper Historic Theatre will once again present its own original musical take on the tale.
Cliff Harris, who reprises his role as Ebenezer Scrooge, explained, “The story is all about redemption.” The plot of “A Christmas Carol” is well known. Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge not only hates the Christmas holiday, but also fails to see the humanity in anyone else around him. One Christmas Eve he is visited by the ghost of his former business partner as well as spirits of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The spirits reveal to Scrooge his own past sorrows, the happiness and struggles of people near to him and finally the dark and lonely hopelessness of his future. Scrooge learns from the experience and opens himself up to feeling empathy, joy and generosity.
Harris relishes the role of Scrooge, noting that the meaner Scrooge is in the first part of the play, the more miraculous his transformation is. He believes the play’s message to audience members might be, “If Scrooge can be saved, then maybe so can I.” Director Craig Haycock emphasized that the Draper Historic Theatre production adheres closely to Dickens’ original text and takes audiences “through a roller coaster of emotions, which makes Scrooge’s redemption more powerful.”
In addition to staying faithful to the original story, the music and dances in the show are in keeping with the styles of the Victorian time period. “The choreography has to be entertaining, but period authentic as well,” said choreographer and actor Heather Haycock. The music includes carols from the Victorian era as well as original songs written in the style of the period.
Draper Historic Theatre first produced “A Christmas Carol” several years ago. New things are added every year. This year’s production includes a scene in which the Ghost of Christmas Present reveals two ghostly urchins — Want and Ignorance — to Scrooge. “The point is to show Scrooge the reality of poverty,” said Heather Haycock.
Members of the Haycock family have worked on “A Christmas Carol” from the beginning and the show has become part of their family holiday traditions. “We talk about it all year,” said Craig Haycock. In addition to directing, Craig has played many roles in the production over the years. His daughter Heather has been involved with the show since 2009 and Jennifer Haycock contributed an original song.
The Haycocks are not the only ones for whom performing in “A Christmas Carol” is a family activity. Dave Ellis attended rehearsals when his daughters were in the show last year. “I was in the audience and they needed help so I decided to jump in. Last year I was ‘Gentleman #2.’ This year I am the Ghost of Christmas Present!” Ellis’ daughter Bonnie plays Scrooge’s sister, Fan, this year, and her sister Tessa will be in the orchestra playing violin. Ellis is enjoying being in the show with his daughters and hopes to get his wife involved next year.
Stage manager Will Greer played Jacob Marley last year and has worked on the production both on- and off-stage for years. His little brother, Alex, is playing the role of Tiny Tim this year. Alex, age 7, caught the theater bug early and asked his parents, “When do I get to be on stage?” after seeing his first production. He is hard at work learning how to use Tiny Tim’s crutches.
Greer feels that “A Christmas Carol” has a universal appeal. “It’s about people evolving to love mankind as they should,” he said. Brecia Hansen, who plays a townsperson, echoed the sentiment. “What I like about the show is that it brings out a good feeling in people. It shows that you can change.”
Draper Historic Theatre’s production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” opens on Nov. 30 and will be performed on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays in December at 7:00 p.m. with Saturday matinees at 2:00 p.m. The final performance will be Dec. 22. For tickets and more information, visit the Draper Historic Theatre website at www.drapertheatre.org or call 801-572-4144 during the run. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 900 East in Draper.