Draper Historic Theatre’s 'A Christmas Carol' reflects the season of givingDec 01, 2021 02:10PM ● By Katherine Weinstein
A reformed Scrooge (Cliff Harris) shares a laugh with his nephew, Fred (Richard Iverson) in a past production of “A Christmas Carol” at Draper Historic Theatre. (Photo courtesy Draper Historic Theatre)
By Katherine Weinstein | [email protected]
Draper Historic Theatre will once again present their special musical version of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 3 through 22. After more than a decade, the show has become a Christmas tradition for actors and audience members who return year after year. The production team and actors continue to find ways to keep the show fresh and meaningful.
"We are always updating the lines," said choreographer Heather Greer, who also plays the Ghost of Christmas Past. "We're always trying to make it as close to the original Dickens as possible."
Wil Greer, who plays Scrooge's nephew, Fred, this year, explained that the opening scene has been freshened up with new choreography. "We took something that worked last year and added it in," he said.
Director Craig Haycock added that the recorded music in the show has been remastered and that the tune for Scrooge’s lament has been changed. The main elements of the production remain the same from year to year, however. “If it’s not broken, we don’t fix it,” Haycock explained.
“It’s interesting because there are a lot of people who do this show every year,” Greer noted. “It’s like the ‘Christmas Carol’ family.”
Cliff Harris has been playing the part of Ebenezer Scrooge at Draper Historic Theatre from the beginning and never tires of the role. He finds new themes in Scrooge’s story every year which inspire his performances. At a recent rehearsal, Harris described a scene in Dickens’ original novella that held a special meaning for him. In the book, Scrooge looks out the window to find the night sky filled with wretched spirits, one of whom wails at not being able to help a homeless woman suffering in the cold.
“The theme is about agency to help people while we are alive,” Harris said. “This is our only chance to help each other.” He added that the same theme is repeated in the play when Scrooge pretends to give a little caroler a coin, only to snatch it back. Scrooge keenly regrets his actions later on and tries to give another beggar girl a coin, but cannot as she is only a shadow being shown to him by the Ghost of Christmas Past.
“My favorite thing about this show is that people leave here wanting to help people and lift others,” he said. “They come to be entertained and leave having heard the gospel and being better for it. It’s very powerful.”
“This is what we do to help people get in the Christmas spirit,” said Harris’ wife, Ellen. She has been involved with the past 10 productions of “A Christmas Carol” behind the scenes. This year she is playing one of the women who vies for Scrooge’s bed curtains in a scene with the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.
To meet the demands of the rigorous schedule of performances, there are two separate casts for this year’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” Chad Smith plays Bob Cratchit in one of them. “This production is done so often at this time of year,” Smith said. “What differentiates ours is that it’s a small show with a big heart.”
“‘A Christmas Carol’ defines our Christmas season,” he continued. “And you get to hang out with friends.” Smith is performing alongside his daughter, Olivia who alternates playing Martha Cratchit and Scrooge’s former fiancée, Belle.
“I definitely enjoy the theater family,” Olivia said. “The connections you make are the most important part.”
Depending on which cast is performing, Olivia swaps roles with her friend Lily Farr. This is Lily’s second year performing in “A Christmas Carol.” “It’s become a tradition,” Lily said. “It’s a fun thing to do together for Christmas.”
Lily’s dad, Dan Farr, is joining the cast this year as Mr. Fezziwig. The FanX Salt Lake Comic Convention founder is trying out his acting skills on stage for the first time. “It’s such a fun experience to do it,” he said. “I really like the variety and getting out of my comfort zone. Every night I get to do something different.”
Both Chad Smith and Dan Farr expressed how much they treasure the time they get to spend with their daughters working on the show. “This is something that brings us together,” Farr said.
Putting on “A Christmas Carol” is a family activity for many at Draper Historic Theatre, including Craig Haycock who is also the theater’s general manager. “Everyone in my family is involved, all of my children,” Haycock said. “One year, when the theater was struggling, we decided to spend our Christmas funds on the production.”
The bonds of family and the spirit of giving are both celebrated in the Draper Historic Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol.”
Performance dates are Dec. 3, 4, 6, 9, 10, 11, 13, 16, 17, 18, 20, 21 and 22 at 7 p.m. with matinees at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Dec. 4, 11 and 18. Draper Historic Theatre is located at 12366 S. 900 East. For online ticket purchases and more information visit drapertheatre.org or call 801-572-4144 during the run of the show.