No humbug here — Draper Historic Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ returns
Dec 10, 2019 12:27PM
● By Katherine Weinstein
Cast members of “A Christmas Carol” join in song in the Draper Historic Theatre original musical. (Photo courtesy Draper Historic Theatre)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
“I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the past, the present, and the future, the spirits of all three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!” – Ebenezer Scrooge, “A Christmas Carol”
These well-known words will ring out once again from the stage of Draper Historic Theatre in the 2019 production of “A Christmas Carol.” Over the years, this original musical adaptation of Dickens’ tale has become an audience favorite. This year’s production, however, will feature a few changes to the way the story is told, a new song, and some new faces on stage.
"A Christmas Carol" at Draper Historic Theatre is a constant work in progress. "We rewrite it every year," said director Craig Haycock. “It is always written in the spirit of Dickens.” The script contains story elements from the novel. For example, as Haycock explained, “There is a beggar child in every scene who gives Scrooge an opportunity to be charitable. He ignores her until the end, which shows the change in his character.”
One of the script writers for the production is Randy Young, who is a direct descendant of Dickens. “He has a hand in the rewrites every year,” Haycock said. “It is dear to his heart. The show is true to Dickens in every way.” Themes of empathy, charity and redemption are central to the show’s message.
Performing in “A Christmas Carol” is a beloved tradition to many in the cast who return year after year. Co-director Cliff Harris has been playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge since the beginning. After nine seasons in the role, Harris estimates this year he will give his 100th performance as Scrooge. “I love theater because it’s fun,” he said. “This show is especially meaningful to me.”
Music Director Kyle Woodruff is returning to "A Christmas Carol" this year after having moved out of state for a couple of years. He composed the orchestration for the musical pieces in the very first production. "What I love about [the show] is the fact that there are original pieces that you can't hear anywhere else. It's fun to have a hand in creating them," Woodruff said.
A pianist who began playing at age 3, Woodruff first became involved with Draper Historic Theatre 10 years ago. "I just love theater! I've been doing it since junior high. It's addictive," said Woodruff.
In addition to being the music director, Woodruff will be playing one of the gentlemen who asks Scrooge for a charitable donation for the poor. Woodruff’s greatest challenge as an actor is the fact that he is blind. He lost his sight in infancy but does not let his blindness stop him from doing what he loves. "Someone is walking with me at all times on stage," Woodruff said. "When acting I am always in a group."
For this year’s production, Woodruff created the orchestration for a new song composed by Harris. In the story, Scrooge takes a trip back in time with the Ghost of Christmas Past and sees himself as a lonely boy left behind at boarding school for the Christmas holiday. Harris decided to write a solo for young Scrooge in that scene in which he laments his loneliness. He woke up one morning with the tune in his head. "I'm really pleased with how this song came out," he said.
New actors have joined the cast this year. Among them is Draper resident Jonathan Saul, who initially came to the auditions to give his daughter moral support. He ended up with the role of Bob Cratchit, and his daughter, Stella, is singing and dancing in the chorus. This is Saul’s first time performing in musical theater. He has been honing his musical skills performing in a local rock band.
“I love the creativity and camaraderie of the group,” Saul said. “The level of talent in the show is amazing. It’s a great family show, a great date night — perfect for the season. Everyone is so committed.”
Draper Historic Theatre will present “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 6, 7, 9, 12, 13, 14, 16, 19, 20 and 21 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 7, 14 and 21 at 2 p.m. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 South 900 East in Draper. For tickets, visit www.drapertheatre.org or call 801-572-4144 during the run of the production.