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.
- Daniel Blinkoff (Bob Cratchit)
- Gregg Daniel (Jacob Marley’s Ghost, Gentleman)
- Richard Doyle (Solicitor, Spirit of Christmas Past, Gentleman)
- John David Keller (Mr. Fezziwig)
- Alex Knox (Undertaker, Ebenezer as a Young Man)
- Art Koustik (Joe the Cider Man, Ensemble)
- Timothy Landfield (Wreath Seller, Spirit of Christmas Present)
- Hal Landon Jr. (Ebenezer Scrooge)
- Ann-Marie Lee (Toy Lady, Sally, Scavenger)
- William Francis McGuire (Fred, Gentleman)
- Jennifer Parsons (Mrs. Cratchit, Rich Woman)
- Erika Schindele (Laundress, Belle, Scavenger)
NAME: Daniel Blinkoff
Role: Bob Cratchit
Notable: 15th 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 fellow actor and 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."
NAME: Gregg Daniel
Role(s): Jacob Marley’s Ghost, Gentleman
Notable: His seventh 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.”
NAME: Richard Doyle
Role(s): Solicitor, Spirit of Christmas Past, Gentleman
Notable: His 33rd 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.”
NAME: John-David Keller
Role(s): Mr. Fezziwig
Notable: His 38th year as director.
About Mr. Fezzig: “Today, he probably would be called ‘the comic relief." In the first act of this play, I think he represents the true spirit of Christmas outside of the Cratchit family, which is a unit all to itself; they celebrate Christmas in their way. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig are the openness, the jollity and the party element of what Christmas is all about. We’re basically a Victorian office party. That’s us.”
Most Delightful Aspect: “It’s the children, who make me cry every year. I don’t think the kids realize what it means to do this show until they see their first audience stand up. That’s how appreciative the audience is. For the children, it’s so new and it’s so joyful. I tell the kids at the very beginning, ‘You may think you don’t have any responsibility in this show, but that’s not true at all. Aside from ‘Bah-humbug,’ what is the most-quoted line in this play? ‘God bless us, everyone.’ And it’s said by a six-year-old child.”
Message of the Play: “This play gives audiences the spirit of the season. It’s also a gorgeous show to look at, as well as the fact that there’s singing, there’s dancing, there’s joy and there are moments of great tenderness. It has everything we want people to come to the theatre about. We present it and we hope each year that audiences enjoy it.”
NAME: Alex Knox
Role(s): Undertaker, Ebenezer as a Young Man
Notable: 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.
NAME: Art Koustik
Role(s): Joe, Ensemble
Notable: 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.”
NAME: Timothy Landfield
Role(s): Wreath Seller, Spirit of Christmas Present
Notable: His 18th 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. As my character says at the end of Act I: ‘I am with everyone on this special night. People are kinder and more generous because of the Christmas Spirit—wherever vain man has not barred the door to me…I leave my spirit and my blessing.’”
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!”
NAME: Hal Landon Jr.
Role: Ebenezer Scrooge
Notable: Originated the role of Ebenezer Scrooge; 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 memory comes from the two years that my daughter, Caroline, was in the play as the Girl About Town.”
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.”
NAME: Ann Marie Lee
Role(s): Toy Lady, Sally, Scavenger
Notable: Her 11th year with A Christmas Carol.
Backstory: “Director John-David Keller asked me to audition for a group of roles when Hisa Takakuwa moved from the cast to become the show’s assistant director. So I am the Toy Lady, Sally (Fred’s wife), a scavenger and a guest at the Fezziwig’s party. Having these different roles makes the show fly by, as we’re all running around backstage changing into different wigs and costumes. If the audience could get a peek at that part of the production, it would further their Christmas glee!”
Sally is: “Totally in love with Fred, totally loyal to him and feels quite protective of him, especially because his Uncle Scrooge is gruff and completely dismisses Fred. Oh and she’s feisty about it—that’s my kind of girl! To her, Fred is the very essence of ‘living the Christmas spirit.’”
Most Delightful Aspect: “I am a sucker for this story and our play. Each year, when I hear the music begin to play, I get teary-eyed; it gets me every year. Those notes mean that I get to be a part of telling this great tale and our journey is about to begin. With each new audience, the show comes alive anew and it demands that we keep it present and fresh. I did classical theatre for many years and we were always aware that we got to ‘stand on the shoulders of giants’ to share classical plays and stories. It’s a privilege to get to be a part of this classic. Is there anything better than that?”
Message of the Play: “This time of year, it’s easy to become too preoccupied with the commercial trappings of the season, and the true spirit and meaning of Christmas can get lost in those preoccupations…and the traffic! Our audiences know that they can depend on A Christmas Carol to put them in the spirit of the season and that’s just pure joy for me.”
NAME: William Francis McGuire
Role(s): Fred, Gentleman
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 and I’ve been happily doing it ever since.”
About Fred: “He is the embodiment of the Christmas Spirit. He sees the good in everyone, finds joy in everything, and lives a life full of hope and the spirit of giving.”
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.”
Message of the Play: “The play speaks to me every year, without fail. Playing Fred, I can’t help but have a little of his humor and good cheer rub off on me. It puts me in the holiday spirit and I find myself humming Christmas carols for months on end.”
NAME: Jennifer Parsons
Role(s): Mrs. Cratchit, Rich Woman
Notable: Her 15th 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.’”
NAME: Erika Schindele
Role(s): Laundress, Belle, Scavenger
Notable: Her seventh 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! In 2011, I was offered the role of Belle.”
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.”
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