Lyric Theatre is taking a “Bah, humbug” approach to the upcoming holiday season. No, the company isn't scalping its tickets or turning off the heat in the theater. Instead, it's planning to offer an encore engagement of Charles Dickens' “A Christmas Carol.”
Directed by artistic director Michael Baron with a score assembled by Baron and Josh Schmidt (composer of off-Broadway's “The Adding Machine”), “A Christmas Carol” incorporates more than a dozen familiar carols that were recorded by a Celtic ensemble in Milwaukee.
“We wanted the carols to be from the period of Dickens but also have a more percussive sound which would propel the story forward in a more visceral, theatrical way than they are usually heard around the holidays,” Baron said.
Baron's version of Dickens' Victorian tale combines elements from the novel with those drawn from the numerous television and big-screen versions about the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and his ultimate transformation into a benevolent gentleman.
Portraying the story's protagonist is Jonathan Beck Reed, with Tom Orr as Bob Cratchit, Susan Riley as Mrs. Cratchit, Matthew Alvin Brown as Fred and Young Scrooge, Jayme Petete as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Mandy Jiran as the Ghost of Christmas Present.
“When I was a young actor playing older roles, I had to work harder to find experiences in my life that would relate to the character I was playing,” Reed said. “Today, I'm older, I've lived more and hopefully I am wiser. At 53, I can understand a character like Scrooge far better than I did at 25.
“The tough thing about playing Scrooge is that he spends so much time observing others. You have to be totally invested every single second while you're on stage and let those scenes impact you. It's as if you're doing Hamlet's soliloquy. Everything is being done internally so your evolution is happening silently.”