• Family Affair: A Grandfather and Granddaughter Share the Stage in "A Christmas Carol"

    Beth Fhaner
     | Dec 10, 2018
    Hal Landon Jr. and Presley Coogan in A Christmas Carol

    Hal Landon Jr. as Ebenezer Scrooge and his grandaughter, Presley Coogan, as Tiny Tim in SCR's 39th annual production of A Christmas Carol.

    Hal Landon, Jr. has been portraying Ebenezer Scrooge in SCR’s A Christmas Carol for nearly 40 years. As one of the longest-tenured Scrooges in the nation, Landon has been recognized by The New York Times for his performances and longevity. Performing in his iconic role in this year’s 39th production of A Christmas Carol marks a special time for Landon, as he gets to share the stage with his 9-year-old granddaughter, Presley Coogan, who stars as Tiny Tim (on the Green Team).

    After taking acting classes at SCR’s Theatre Conservatory and going through the arduous audition process for A Christmas Carol, Coogan was elated to find out that she’d been cast in this year’s production of the holiday classic. In our Q&A with both grandfather and granddaughter, we get their thoughts on the beloved play that has become Orange County’s favorite holiday tradition.

    For Hal—How has the role of Ebenezer Scrooge evolved for you over the years, and did you ever dream you’d be playing this character for nearly four decades?

    Hal: The way in which I have played the role of Scrooge has evolved in a number of ways. Just the fact that I was so much younger when I first played the part and am now so much older has caused the characterization to evolve. My main hope is that the characterization has become more fully realized over the years. It is a complex and challenging role in terms of the types and degrees of emotions that Scrooge expresses in the course of the play. I know that wrestling with—and working on this challenge—has made me a better actor and, I hope, has enabled me to more fully realize the character with each passing year​. I knew SCR wanted to make A Christmas Carol an annual tradition, but I don’t think anyone was thinking about continuing for 40 years.

    What do you enjoy the most about playing the character of Ebenezer Scrooge?

    Hal: Perhaps the most enjoyable thing about being in A Christmas Carol is the reaction of the audience and not just when the play is being performed. Many people tell me they have been coming for as many as 20 years or more. Some of those people first brought their children and now those children are bringing their children. Knowing how much the show means to people is one of the things that bring me back every year.

    What’s it like to be sharing the stage this year with your granddaughter, Presley, in the role of Tiny Tim?

    Hal: Presley and I have always enjoyed acting together off stage. Whenever I babysit with her and her sister, Hadley, we do our own improvised versions of stories like Cinderella, Peter Pan and The Three Bears.  We’ve improvised so much that the stories bear only a slight resemblance to the originals. So, it will be a tremendous joy to share the stage with my granddaughter, as I did with my daughter, Caroline, some 21 years ago.

    For Presley​—What’s your first memory of seeing your grandfather Hal onstage, and what’s it like to now be sharing the stage with him in A Christmas Carol?

    Presley: I remember being so excited that I was going to get to see him as Scrooge. It’s amazing getting to share the stage with him! 

    What do you enjoy the most about playing the character of Tiny Tim?

    Presley: That I get to come in on Bob Cratchit’s shoulders. Then I’m the tallest person onstage! 

    How does it help your acting studies by working with the adults in the cast, and who inspires you as an actor?

    Presley: They are so nice and help me not to be nervous. My grandpa inspires me. 

    What are you most looking forward to with this year’s production of A Christmas Carol?

    Hal: Of course, I’m really looking forward to being in the play with Presley, but also to see what new things the cast and I can bring to the play.

    Presley: I am very excited to perform in front of an audience. 

    What is your favorite part about the holiday season?

    Hal: Since A Christmas Carol has pretty much dominated the holiday season for me and my family for these many years, one of my favorite parts has become the Christmas Eve performances. There is a wonderfully heightened atmosphere in the theatre that makes those shows quite special.

    Presley: Spending time with family is my favorite part. 

    Learn more about A Christmas Carol and buy tickets.

  • The Worldwide Phenomenon of "Sweeney Todd"

    SCR Staff
     | Dec 06, 2018
    Sweeney Todd Logo

    Excitement is high for Sweeney Todd, the Tony Award-winning​ Stephen Sondheim musical that plays on the Segerstrom Stage (Jan. 19 – Feb. 16). In a barber shop above Mrs. Lovett’s struggling pie shop, Sweeney Todd plots revenge on the lecherous judge who wronged him and his family. In the seedy underbelly of 19th-century London, desperate times lead to diabolical schemes—and strange alliances. See the timeline below to find out how this fascinating and endlessly inventive musical became a worldwide phenomenon.

    String of Pearls Penny Dreadful

    ​​The String of Pearls - ​the ​original ​penny ​dreadful featuring Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet

    Sweeney Todd Broadway Poster

    The original Sweeney Todd Broadway production poster.

    Sweeney Todd Movie Poster

    The original Sweeney Todd movie poster.

    1846: The character of Sweeney Todd is introduced in serialized Victorian popular fiction (known as “penny dreadfuls”—sold for a penny) in a story called The String of Pearls. Set in 1785, the story featured as its principal villain a certain Sweeney Todd and included all the plot elements that were used by Sondheim and others ever since.

    1973: The play Sweeney Todd: ​The Demon Barber of Fleet Street by Christopher Bond debuted at Theatre Royal Stratford East, where Sondheim saw it and first began to conceive the idea for a musical. Sondheim noted, “It had a weight to it . . . because [Bond] wrote certain characters in blank verse. He also infused into it plot elements from Jacobean tragedy and The Count of Monte Cristo. He was able to take all these disparate elements that had been in existence rather dully for a hundred and some-odd years and make them into a first-rate play.”

    1979: The musical version of Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street (based on the play) by Stephen Sondheim and Hugh Wheeler, premiered, directed by Hal Prince and starring Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou. The production was nominated for nine Tony Awards, winning eight including Best Musical.

    1980: The musical premieres on London’s West End at Theatre Royal Drury Lane. The production was nominated for three Olivier Awards and won two, including the Olivier Award for Best New Musical in 1980. A U.S. national tour is launched.

    1987: The State Opera of South Australia presented the musical as Australia's first professional production in Adelaide.

    1989: The first Broadway revival opens at Circle in the Square Theatre. This production received four Tony Award nominations.

    1993: The show receives its first London revival at the Royal National Theatre. This production received six Olivier Award nominations and won four Olivier Awards including Best Musical Revival.

    1995: It premiered in Catalan at the theat​re Poliorama of Barcelona (later moving to the Apolo Theatre), in a production of the Drama Centre of the Government of Catalonia. The show received more than 15 awards.

    1997: The 1997 Finnish National Opera production premiered.

    2004: John Doyle directed a revival of the musical that was subsequently transferred to the West End. The production was notable because there was no orchestra, and the cast played all of the instruments. It was nominated for two Olivier Awards.

    2005: Doyle’s West End production was transferred to Broadway, starring Patti LuPone and Michael Cerveris. It was nominated for six Tony Awards, winning two.

    2007: A feature film adaptation of the musical was released, directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp (who received a Golden Globe and Oscar nomination for his performance) and Helena Bonham Carter as Sweeney and Mrs. Lovett.

    2012: Another West End revival is produced starring Imelda Staunton, garnering six Olivier Awards and winning three.

    2015: A production runs at the Pieter Toerien Monte Casino Theatre in Johannesburg, South Africa, before transferring to the Theatre on the Bay in Cape Town.

    2015-18: Cameron Mackintosh produces the West End transfer of a site-specific production that ran at an actual pie shop in London. In 2017, this production transferred off-Broadway to the Barrow Street Theatre, where it was extended until February 2018.

    Learn more about SCR's Sweeney Todd and buy tickets.

  • From Audience Member to Acting Student

    Tania Thompson
     | Nov 29, 2018

    A Christmas Carol Inspires Rachel Stossel (and Her Mom)

    Christine and Rachel Stossel with Scrooge

    ​Christine and Rachel Stossel 

    The house lights dimmed and a swell of music wafted through the Segerstrom Stage. It was November 2017 and Rachel Stossel and her mother, Christine, were at South Coast Repertory to see A Christmas Carol for the first time. Its magic stunned, charmed and inspired—and within a week, Rachel enrolled in the Theatre Conservatory including Summer Acting Workshop and regular year classes. And came to see A Christmas Carol again in 2018.

    There’s a Lot to Love About A Christmas Carol

    “I loved the show last year!” Rachel, now a second-year acting student, confesses. “I think that this year, I paid more attention to the acting, rather than the simple entertainment of the show. The way the actors talked, the subtle similarities between the many characters played by the same actor and what they did to make that character their own—all things I didn't notice last year!” 

    Her mom, Christine, equally fell in love with the iconic holiday show.

    “I didn't know what to expect, but I certainly didn't think I'd be laughing and cheering from the audience,” she says. “I immediately was swept up by Hal Landon Jr. And, boy, was I excited to find out why the whole audience was wearing red scarves!”

    Seeing the show again this year, Christine found herself “blown away” by Landon and the cast and discovered that she couldn’t help but like Ebenezer Scrooge, even in his “Scroogiest” moments. Even more special, this year she watched her daughter watch the show, “sitting forward in her seat, her eyes moving from character to character, studying the stage. I’d have to say that she was enthralled.”

    Finding Confidence and New Depths in Acting Class

    Rachel talks about her acting classes—all the time. She gives a shout-out to teacher Kristina Leach, who is encouraging and makes class fun by creating and using games for the acting topic of the day.

    “She makes the things we need to learn a lot more fun, so it sticks in our heads,” Rachel says. “She tells us, ‘You’re all geniuses,’ on a regular basis and that keeps our self-esteem high, which is important to us.”

    A love of acting wasn’t new for Rachel, says her mom. But SCR’s approach to acting classes was the key: a focus on teaching acting techniques instead of simply assigning roles and lines of script.

    “Rachel finds something in her classes at SCR that's hard to define,” Christine explains. “She seems more centered and definitely more confident. But she also seems more interested in other people and more connected than she was before, and that's been helpful in all areas of her life.”

    For Rachel, SCR is summed up in one word: “Amazing.” 

    What Matters

    Christine has seen how acting classes are having an impact as Rachel learns and grows.

    “I’m most grateful for the confidence she's gained, the place she's found at SCR and the sense of both belonging and responsibility that comes with that,” she says. “And I love to see the joy and pride on her face when she's talking about her classes.”

    Rachel came to SCR to learn to act—to really learn the craft. Last month, when her class did its end-of-session demonstrations (a showcase of what they’d learned), Christine was floored to see what Rachel and the other students had learned in just that one 10-week session. Rachel has gained a lot so far—and the future looks bright.

    Winter acting classes for kids and teens start Jan. 8, 2019. Learn more about acting classes in the Theatre Conservatory and enroll.

    NOTE: Kids and teen classes are progressive: new students take classes in winter, summer and fall. Spring classes are for returning students only. Adult classes have year-round open enrollment.

  • True Stories. Real People.

    SCR Staff
     | Nov 26, 2018

    Culture Clash Returns to Orange County

    Culture Clash in America photo

    Ricardo Salinas, Herbert Siguenza and Richard Montoya in ​SCR's 2008 production of Culture Clash in AmeriCCa.

    For roughly half of their more than three decades together, Richard Montoya, Ricardo Salinas and Herbert Siguenza have traveled the country as theatrical anthropologists, digging into the psyche of the ever-changing human landscape that is the United States. They’ve interviewed hundreds of people from all walks of American life from ghetto streets to suburban tract homes, from city halls to back alley bars, from RV parks to high rise offices and elsewhere—including Orange County.

    The trio—playwrights, spoken-word poets, visual artists, filmmakers and activists—has spoken with people of every race, creed and color: young and old, rich and poor, generationally connected families and loners and others. The resulting stories that they’ve woven into Culture Clash (Still) in Ameri​ca for South Coast Repertory (Dec. 30, 2018-Jan. 20, 2019, Julianne Argyros Stage), are varied, creative and funny—and at the same time, complex and serious.

    Culture Clash (Still) in Ameri​ca is a “reminder of many things,” says Salinas. “It’s a reminder of race and class, of misplaced values—but mainly of the human spirit: that need in all of us to be heard. Not just the powerful, but the quiet voices folded deep in the nation’s margins.”

    “We invite Orange County to ride along with us and meet some of the real people we have encountered in our three decade-long journey across America and Orange County. This is what we offer; this is what we do: urban excavations, oral interpretations. True stories. Real people.”

    Adapted from the preface by Guillermo Gómez-Peña and introduction by Tony Taccone in Culture Clash in AmeriCCa: Four Plays.

    Learn more about Culture Clash (Still) in America and buy tickets.

  • Role Call: Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol"

    Tania Thompson
     | Nov 15, 2018

    A family reunion of sorts happens each year at this time—when more than a dozen actors return for A Christmas Carol. Hal Landon Jr. (Scrooge) and John-David Keller (director; Mr. Fezziwig) have marked all 38 years of this iconic production. The years add up for other Christmas Carol veterans, as well. Continue reading to learn more about your favorite cast members and the main characters they portray.

    Blinkoff,-Daniel-castNAME:​ ​Daniel Blinkoff

    Role: Bob Cratchit
    Notable: 1​6th consecutive year.
    Backstory: “I had been cast in my first SCR show (Nostalgia by Lucinda Coxon) in 2001 and we shared the backstage area with the Christmas Carol cast. I remember walking into the theatre to get ready for my show and it was like a wave of holiday cheer came rolling over me. The hallways were filled with kids and excitement and laughter. Parents were wishing their kids good luck for the day’s performance and leaving treats in the Green Room and there were snippets of stories drifting out of the dressing rooms. To put it simply: it felt magical. Sometimes, I would watch the show from backstage. So when the call came from SCR a year or two later offering me the part of Bob Cratchit, I jumped at the chance.”
    Bob Cratchit is: “One of the things I love about Bob is how grateful he is for his family. They are his world, the moon and sun to him. But the key for me, that allowed me to fully understand this overwhelming gratefulness, was Tiny Tim. Just within the story itself, as it is written, the idea that Tim might not get better, that this innocent boy might not be blessed with a full life, has always informed me of the heart that Bob carries. Another key for me, in figuring out who Bob is, comes from the kids we have in the show each year. The qualities they bring to their characters and their unique portrayals make our family complete. And my wonderful partner, Jennifer Parsons (Mrs. Cratchit), and I get a new set of kids every year! We always have a lot of fun as a family in rehearsal and performance. We feel pretty lucky to receive that gift every year.”
    How A Christmas Carol speaks to me: “The meaning of this play gets deeper every year and the relationships grow; so what started out for all of us, at some point, simply as a job, ​has now become a tradition. The relationships ​expanded out to include the ​theatregoers who come every year and the kids who came to the show when they were young and now are bringing their own kids. So it’s more than just the play; A Christmas Carol has become a tradition in all of our lives, our Christmas celebration and everyone associated with it has become our family.”
    Favorite Memory: “One year, during the final performance, Tiny Tim pulled my costume sleeve and asked me not to go on. When I asked him why, he said, ‘If you go out there it will mean it will be over soon.’”
    Most Delightful Aspect: “The joy in this show starts with John-David Keller, our director. He sets the stage for it, literally and figuratively. I have never known a person who takes more delight in the telling and sharing of stories. His laughter is contagious and his heart is always open."

    Melody ButiuNAME:​ ​​Melody Butiu

    Role: Toy Lady, Sally, Scavenger
    Notable: Her Christmas Carol debut.
    SCR credits include: mainstage and young audiences productions including the world premieres of Shipwrecked! and The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow. She also was in the musicals Junie B. Jones in Jingle Bells Batman Smells and Ivy + Bean. On Broadway, she appeared in Doctor Zhivago and off-Broadway in Here Lies Love.
    Other credits include:
    “NCIS,” “NCIS: LA,” “The Kominsky Method” “Gotham” and “Modern Family.

    Sol CastilloNAME:​ ​Sol Castillo

    Role: Fred, Gentleman
    Notable: His Christmas Carol debut.
    SCR credits include: Castillo is well-known to SCR audiences for his appearances in the eight-year run of La Posada Magica. He also appeared in several young audiences productions here.
    Other credits include: the national tour of Veteranos: A Legacy of Valor, CalShakes, Plaza de La Raza, Denver Center for the Performing Arts and Pasadena Playhouse.

    Daniel,-Gregg_CastNAME:​ ​Gregg Daniel

    Role(s): Jacob Marley’s Ghost, Gentleman
    Notable: His ​eighth season.
    Backstory: I joined A Christmas Carol​, when my daughter was eight years old. I was touched, grateful and terrified as I took on the role of Jacob Marley, whom beloved SCR actor Don Took had been doing for decades. Of course, director John-David Keller and the cast could not have been more inviting, supportive and kind.
    Marley’s Ghost is: “Lost. He’s a lost, tormented soul who has damned himself as a result of his avarice, selfishness and pride. He occupies a torturous place in the afterlife in that he can find no rest. What torments him is that he can see all the things he might have done to help ease the suffering of others while alive, but he merely stood idly by and did nothing. The pity is he no longer has the power to change anything. Yet, with all his failings, Marley is given one more chance to save his friend, Ebenezer Scrooge.
    Challenges and Opportunities: “As an actor, I want to make sure each performance is as fresh, compelling and uplifting as it was when I first took on the role. Many of our audience members have made A Christmas Carol part of their holiday traditions, so I’m humbled and inspired to be part of that. We also have a new group of children every year. While undoubtedly the kids are having the time of their lives, I also want them to understand the discipline, professionalism and hard work that go into delivering eight shows a week. In my own way, I try to be a role model for them through the work I do.”
    Best memory: “When my daughter first came to see the show, with several of her school chums no less! There was an undeniable pride she took in seeing her Dad (as dreadful as I look as Marley!) helping to tell this wonderful story in such a splendid production. Since then, she has learned all the songs in the show as well as all of my lines. I think she stands ready to replace me when I retire!”
    How A Christmas Carol Speaks to Me: “The play reminds me of the charity, good will and humor that individuals display to one another during the holidays. A Christmas Carol reinforces my belief that humankind can be startlingly generous and capable of magnificent acts of kindness.”

    Doyle,-Richard-CastNAME:​ ​Richard Doyle

    Role(s): Solicitor, Spirit of Christmas Past, Gentleman
    Notable: His 3​5th year.
    Backstory: “​I first took the roles of The Ghost of Christmas Past (originally played by John Fredrick Jones), a solicitor and a guest at Fred’s Party. Later, I played many different roles including Fred, Mr. Fezziwig and Joe, the cider man.
    Spirit of Christmas Past is: “​The first of the spirit guides, who ​starts Scrooge on his journey of self-discovery. He awakens in Scrooge an awareness of all the goodness in his life and that those whom he encountered may have been positive influences. The Ghost foreshadows what is to come and, though there are heartfelt moments that Hal and I enjoy exploring, there also are difficult memories that Scrooge must confront—about his own complicity in the life he has had. The goals of The Spirit of the Past are summed up in his opening dialogue, as he states, ‘I have come to reawaken your Humanity. Let me but touch your heart and you shall be upheld in this and much, much more.’ This is a rewarding and challenging set of objectives for me to pursue each performance.”
    Challenges: “Coming back to the show each season and reinvesting in its goals and objectives, has the same effect on me that I hope it is having on our returning and new audiences. Oh, plus getting the bulk of my holiday shopping done before we start performances.”
    Favorite Moment: “Surely you jest—there are so many over the course from more than 30 years! But, one that does stand out for me, with a clear impression and moment of existential clarity, was the year that my daughter, Sarah, and Hal’s daughter, Caroline, both appeared in the show. OMG! Sarah now has her own child, whom I am sure will be attending A Christmas Carol in the not-too-distant future.”

    Knox,-Alex-castNAME:​ ​Alex Knox

    Role(s): Undertaker, Ebenezer as a Young Man
    Notable: His sixth show. First cast while an SCR Theatre Conservatory student.
    Backstory: “The first time I was in the show, I was 12 years old and played Peter Cratchit. Then in 2012, some 19 years later, I reconnected with John-David Keller when he saw me here in Eurydice. A couple years later, I was asked to join the cast as Ebenezer as a Young Man. It’s truly a dream come true to return to the same production and company where I learned to love theatre.”
    Ebenezer as a Young Man is: “In my mind, he is driven by a deep need to belong. As a kid, he’s an outcast. As he gets older, he pursues work and financial gain, believing that success will somehow shield him from the pain of not being loved. Working at Fezziwigs, he embraces Marley’s ruthless business practices. He falls in love with Belle, but his obsession with work, which he thinks will protect him, ironically drives away the person he cares about. After that, it's clear why he forgoes human relationships—they’re too painful.”
    Challenges and Opportunities: “I love finding ways to make the scenes new for myself. I try to surprise myself or put a new thought in Young Ebenezer's head before coming onstage. I’ll give Young Eb a mantra or a specific goal for a specific performance. I also love when new people join the cast.”
    Most Delightful Aspect: “Being in rehearsal is wonderful! J.D. [Keller] is engaged with every run through and inspires me​. Hal [Landon Jr.] also gives it his all with every rehearsal. He sets the bar high. I love getting to watch him and model my version of Ebenezer off of him. It’s wonderful to see family and friends who come see the show and visit with them after. Working with the kids is special, too. When I played Peter Cratchit, I looked up to the adults in the cast. Now that I’m on the other side of the equation, I hope I can be a good mentor and resource for those just starting their journeys!”
    Favorite Memory: “I remember being in the show as a child and the quiet backstage before the show would start. I remember noticing the distinct shift from the lighthearted energy backstage to focus and reverence, followed by the burst of life and playfulness when the lights came up onstage. Something about that in-between space felt so powerful and sacred. It still feels that way.”
    Message of the Play: “To me, this play is about what it means to be alive. It’s about finding ways to make life better for those around you—that is what frees us from pain and fear and lets us open our hearts.

    Koustik,-Art-castNAME:​ ​Art Koustik

    Role(s): Joe, Ensemble
    Notable: His 38th year. An SCR Founding Artist
    Backstory: “My history with A Christmas Carol began with the adaptation that was written by Jerry Patch for the 1980 holiday season. [Founding Artistic Directors] David Emmes and Martin Benson cast the production and I originally was Mr. Fezziwig and Joe, the cider man.
    Joe is: “Definitely a man of the street. In the days depicted in this production, nothing was easy for people on the street. There is an element of being a thief among thieves in Joe and he’s definitely a conniver. Every one of that stratum of life in Victorian England was out to get whatever they could by any means. Joe, however, did have a soft spot for the people he dealt with. As Joe says, ‘Hard on the outside, soft and warm on the inside.’ I guess that’s one reason they cast me as Joe; I looked like Joe more than anyone else!”
    Challenges and Opportunities: “This play has given me an opportunity to give back to the community; a gift, if you will, for audiences’ loyalty and recognition of our work to bring great theatre to everyone. The challenge comes in keeping it true and joyous.”
    Most Delightful Aspect: “Every year there are new people who jump aboard our beloved steamrolling train. They add so much to the production and that makes their contributions priceless. I also find delight in the consistency of Hal Landon in this awesome task as Scrooge every year and, ​in every performance, ​in John-David’s joy and commitment to the production and, in particular, with the younger members of the cast.
    Message of the Play: “The message is universal about the hope and transformation of the human spirit.”

    Landfield,-Timothy-castNAME:​ Timothy Landfield

    Role(s): Wreath Seller, Spirit of Christmas Present
    Notable: His 1​9th year with the show.
    The Ghost of Christmas Present is: “​The essence of pure joy and abundance. He represents the joy and goodness and spirit of generosity that Christmas can be. His mission is to make Scrooge realize the potential for these things, to get him to change his ideas about what Christmas means, and hopefully, have Scrooge embrace this spirit of goodness and generosity and, yes, even love. Oh, and I’m part of the ensemble ​and portray a chimney sweep, a wreath seller, a basket seller and an inebriated gentleman in the street.”
    Challenges: “As I have matured in the role, the performance has become more challenging physically. I used to enter through the trunk upside down, but then SCR built a new and heavier costume for me, so I had to change my entrance. ​But, even though I am older now, the character still permits me to dance and be a little silly.”
    Opportunities: “Every year I get to embrace the Christmas spirit earlier than most people, as we begin rehearsals in early November. When I first started performing in the show, my daughters were ages 3 and 5. Christmas means so much to our family, but with young children, it means even more. When I remember Christmas morning with my children, I am immediately moved by the capacity for human beings to feel so much love and joy in their lives. It’s important to remember that this feeling can endure throughout the year.
    Most Delightful Aspect: “When we start rehearsals​, there is a sense of family…a new family that gets created every year to spread good cheer every night. The audience takes a journey with us as they watch one man transform from someone who is stingy and uncaring to someone who is generous and kind. This potential is within all of us: to be kinder human beings. What an honor it has been to spread this message on an annual basis.”
    Favorite Memories: “Some of my favorite moments in the show are when Scrooge and I are together watching the other characters in their scenes. No one knows this….but Hal Landon and I improvise quietly in character during our time together on stage. It helps us both focus and we get to express our character’s inner feelings about the real meaning of Christmas. In addition, I bring a group of my students from The American Academy of Dramatic Arts to the show each year and it has been so validating to have my students in the audience. They get to see a sillier side of their mostly serious acting teacher, Mr. Landfield!”

    Landon-Jr,-Hal-castNAME:​ ​Hal Landon Jr.

    Role: Ebenezer Scrooge
    Notable: Originated the role of Ebenezer Scrooge 39 years ago; is an SCR Founding Artist
    Challenges and Opportunities: “The main challenge now is keeping the performance fresh after all these years. Being in A Christmas Carol has been a great lesson in the value of living in the present moment, of not being concerned with past moments and not anticipating future moments. This has helped me not only in this long-running show, but also in all of the other parts I play.”
    Most Delightful Aspect: “What delights me most is the delight that audiences get from seeing the play and the fact that adults, who saw the play when they were children, are now bringing their children.”
    Favorite Memory: “My favorite memories come from the two years that my daughter, Caroline, was in the play as the Girl About Town. And this year, my granddaughter, Presley, is cast as Tiny Tim."
    Message of the Play: “The message of this play is the same for me as it is for everyone: that there are people in need and we who are able must help them. This is particularly evident now in the light of all the recent natural disasters.”

    McGuire,-William-castNAME:​ William Francis McGuire

    Role(s): Gentleman, Mr. Fezziwig
    Notable: His 11th year in the show.
    Backstory: “I first did A Christmas Carol nearly 20 years ago and played the Ghost of Christmas Present. I had a wonderful time with the role and it was the first show I was ever in at SCR. About 8 or 9 years ago, I was asked to play Fred this year, I've taken on the role of Mr. Fezziwig."
    Opportunities: “Because so many performance components are already in place, I am able to explore individual moments more deeply and look to discover fresh and deeper truths. It’s a great opportunity to revisit moments that I feel can be improved and uncover new understandings in the text. Also, as new people join the show in different roles, the energy of a scene will shift and moments will change based on the different choices they make.”
    Best Memory: “Something that really stays with me is not so much a memory, but the feeling of camaraderie I experience with our cast. We all come back and do this show year after year because we love doing it and we love sharing it with our audience. I think we all feel honored to part of something we consider pretty special.”

    Jennifer ParsonsNAME:​ ​Jennifer Parsons

    Role(s): Mrs. Cratchit, Rich Woman
    Notable: Her 1​6th year.
    Backstory: “I am a little afraid to tell you my history with A Christmas Carol, because I was first cast in it in the 1980s as Belle. This probably tells you that I might be a little long in the tooth to play Mrs. Cratchit, but I figure they aged more quickly in Dickens’ time, right? In 2004, my good friend Devon Raymond, who had been playing Mrs. Cratchit​; moved away. I think they called me because I could fit the costume. We are very close in size.”
    About Mrs. Cratchit: “I like to think of Mrs. Cratchit as a warm, loving and fun Mom who isn’t afraid to speak her mind. She tries to make the best of things, knowing full well their situation is bleak. There isn’t much detail written into the role of Mrs. Cratchit in this play, but over the years some of the kids have helped me with her back story. Suffice it to say, I think Mrs. Cratchit’s real name is ‘Katniss’.”
    Challenges and Opportunities: “Let me start with the opportunity part. It seems every year something has ​happened in the world that is coloring the psyche of the audience in a specific way. Some nights you can feel it. We get to tell this story and give them hope that goodness and understanding will eventually win the day. The biggest challenge is to open some closed eyes. My fear is that the folks who really could make the ‘Scrooge adjustment’ in their own life will feel absolved of their sins for simply enjoying Hal and the rest of us for a couple hours. ​Another fun challenge for me is recognizing some of the kids who have graced this production in prior years! They come backstage to say, ‘Hello,’ and while I look basically the same and am pretty easy to name, they keep morphing into these terrific young adult people. Last I saw some of these grown-ups they were hoping for a Hello Kitty thing or Star Wars Legos for Christmas!”
    Best Memory: “My favorite memory is not that wholesome, but here it goes: One year in rehearsal, my Cratchit kids and I decided we were tired of walking the straight and narrow, so we pretended to be smoking cigarettes around the Cratchit table. The plan was that when we heard Bob come in, we would quickly toss our ‘cigarette butts’ into the fireplace lest we be discovered. However, when Bob came home, our Tiny Tim was found with a cigarette still in hand. Bob exclaimed, ‘Tiny Tim! Do you smoke?’” And Tiny Tim replied, Sam Spade-style, ‘Sure, I’ve been smokin’ all my life. That’s why I’m so tiny.’”
    Most Delightful Aspect: “​Comes from working with the kids that come through this production. I am grateful they share some of their life with us backstage each year​; I learn from them. I also love working with some long time, great friends…and with my spouse, Richard Doyle!
    Message of the Play: “Don’t be a greedy, selfish old miser who punishes all who cross his path. Scrooge is a universal phenomenon and, if we are truly looking, we see it played out all around us constantly. Scrooge is lucky though, he gets a warning, a ‘karma preview’ if you will, and is moved to change his ways. I hope the show moves the audience to be introspective and spend some time considering how we treat the ‘least of these.’”

    Schindele,-Erika-CastNAME:​ ​Erika Schindele

    Role(s): Laundress, Belle, Scavenger
    Notable: Her ​eighth year with A Christmas Carol.
    Backstory: “I’m a native of Orange County and grew up seeing this beautiful show with my family. I never dreamed I would be so privileged to join the cast one day”
    About Belle: “As with most of his characters, Dickens makes a statement just by her name: Belle, which is French for beautiful, lovely or good. Like most of the people who inhabit Scrooge’s life, characters like Belle are there to highlight specific moments, shed light on his choices and, perhaps, be a cautionary tale. Belle is love—pure and romantic. She helps Ebenezer as a Young Man look past himself, if only for a brief time, to someone else. She gives the audience a window into the potential of his heart and his humanity. She is strong and fights for both of them, even as she sees him slipping away. The two scenes with Belle are so starkly contrasting; the more human and vulnerable she makes Ebenezer feel—at the Fezziwig’s party where they fall in love—the more inhuman and cold it is to see Scrooge choose money over their love.”
    Challenges and Opportunities: “I take great pride in trying to be open every year to the newness of it all. And there are new things, including new children and young actors; I want to be receptive to them—who they are​ and what they bring to the show. Hopefully, I’ve grown as a person and an actor in the span of a year and I try to bring that to the table with me. Also, I look to Mr. Patch’s text and ​Dickens' book to find words and phrases that might bring new life to my performance. I read somewhere that Hal rereads the book every year. I love that tradition and have tried to do that as well. I can still learn things about Belle that’s what can give me more insight.”
    Most Delightful Aspect: “What brings me absolute delight from being in this production is a sense of the Christmas spirit, family and celebration. Those who know me, know how I much I love Christmas and that this holiday is about traditions; so many families have made this production their family tradition and it is an honor for me to be a part of that. Also, to be able to spend the Christmas holiday in a cast and at a theatre that feels like home is special. I look forward to this every year.”
    Message of the Play: “Hope, transformation and redemption. Scrooge’s journey throughout this story is humbling.The compassion Fred has for his uncle is profound, the sacrifice and love the Cratchit’s share as a family is admirable and the humanity and love that Belle finds in Ebenezer as a young man is hopeful. It seems to me, now more than ever, the message of this story is much needed.”

    Kimberly ScottNAME:​ Kimberly Scott

    Role(s): Solicitor, Mrs. Fezziwig, Scavenger
    Notable: Her second time portraying these characters (made her Christmas Carol debut in 2016)
    SCR credits include: The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler, Our Town and the Pacific Playwrights Festival reading of Curve of Departure
    Other credits include: on Broadway in Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (created the role of Molly and nominated for Tony and Drama Desk awards), Arena Stage, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Yale Repertory Theater, eight seasons at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Love and Other Drugs, World Trade Center and The Abyss.

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