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) have marked all 40 years of this iconic production. And this year, after four decades, both men will retire from the show.
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.
- Larry Bates (Jacob Marley’s Ghost, Gentleman)
- Daniel Blinkoff (Bob Cratchit)
- Melody Butiu (Toy Lady, Sally, Scavenger)
- Sol Castillo (Fred, Gentleman)
- Richard Doyle (Solicitor, Spirit of Christmas Past, Gentleman)
- Veralyn Jones (Solicitor, Mrs. Fezziwig, Scavenger)
- 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)
- Rosney Mauger (Constable/Jacob Marley as a Young Man/The Spirit of Christmas Yet-to-Come/Poulterer)
- William Francis McGuire (Fred, Gentleman)
- Jennifer Parsons (Mrs. Cratchit, Rich Woman)
- Erika Schindele (Laundress, Belle, Scavenger)
NAME: Larry Bates
Role(s): Jacob Marley’s Ghost, Gentleman
Notable: His second time to portray Scrooge's deceased business partner.
A Christmas Carol in General: “I’ve been familiar with A Christmas Carol since I was little. I vividly remember the Christmas Carol with the Muppets—that was always fun to watch when I was a child. A Christmas Carol was also the first story I told as a professional actor; I got my [Actors’] Equity card in a production at the Cincinnati Playhouse. I’ve always loved the story and always love telling it at this time of year.”
Jacob Marley is: “Scrooge's old business partner, who also happens to be the harbinger of things to come for Scrooge if he doesn't change his ways. He’s such a fun character and with the makeup and costumes that accompany the role, I am not sure what could be more fun.”
My Favorite Holiday Tradition: “Spending time with family—relaxing, unwinding from the previous year and getting ready for the next. I'd say that's the only real tradition. Schedules change year to year, but spending as much time as possible with the people I love, getting rid of stress—AND EATING! Can't forget that!—that’s the best.”
Favorite Memory: “It is always fun to scare people each night. Haha! Obviously, that is great, but my favorite memory is tied up in the whole experience. All of the actors are just so talented, giving, and welcoming. In general, what I love about theatre is the process as well as the relationships you develop with other people over the course of a production, and sharing this process with this group of people this time of year is fantastic. You can't beat it.”
Challenges and Opportunities: “I’ll always have to deal with the challenges inherent in a scene. But, this group and this production, everyone helps to facilitate a great atmosphere that is so conducive to an actor's creativity. In my experience, this mix generally leads to good results.”
NAME: Daniel Blinkoff
Role: Bob Cratchit
Notable: 17th 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."
NAME: Melody Butiu
Role: Toy Lady, Sally, Scavenger
Notable: Her second year in A Christmas Carol.
How A Christmas Carol speaks to me: “I just love watching Scrooge’s transformation in A Christmas Carol. It’s easy to let stress, worry and our own frustrations overtake our day-to-day lives. But watching Scrooge’s realization of the most important gifts we have, mainly the people we connect with, is incredibly touching.”
Sally is: “Fred’s wife and she is so in love with him—he has a big, open, forgiving heart. It pains her to see him hurt by Uncle Scrooge, when he rejects Fred’s invitation to Christmas, year after year. I also play the Toy Lady, who sells toys in the town square, and a Scavenger, who seeks to make a profit after Scrooge’s future passing."
Favorite Memory: “Making wonderful new friends through this show and watching our young actors invest so much heart in telling the story. After our final performance, there were so many tears and you could tell it was so difficult for some of our kids to say goodbye to A Christmas Carol.”
Favorite Holiday Tradition: “Spending time with family and humoring Mike, my father-in-law, by partaking in his homemade Limoncello!”
NAME: Sol Castillo
Role: Fred, Gentleman
Notable: His second year in A Christmas Carol.
Fred is: “I start and end the show as Scrooge's nephew, Fred. I like this role because I feel he represents the spirit of the story. The youthful faith of the true meaning of Christmas and the way home for Scrooge. I also get to play one of the Gentlemen in Scrooge's future. That is a fun role because I get to wear a fun mustache and winter coat that is, as I like to call it, ‘Road Kill Chic’!”
Favorite Memory: “I truly enjoyed seeing the joy that this show brings to so many people—walking out onto that stage and feeling the tradition and history of this show. Then meeting so many people who have made this show an annual tradition. Also, when the show begins, the lights come up and the "snow" starts to fall. That is so much fun to be in."
Challenges and Opportunities: “The greatest opportunity is being part of this wonderful tradition. To be a part of something that means so much to so many. I get to work with amazing actors, many of whom I've been fortunate to work with in other productions. As far as challenges go, the only one I can think of is trying not to accidentally breathe in the fake snow while trying to sing Wassail at the top of the show!”
NAME: Richard Doyle
Role(s): Solicitor, Spirit of Christmas Past, Gentleman
Notable: His 36th year; is an SCR Founding Artist
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: Veralyn Jones
Role(s): Solicitor, Mrs. Fezziwig, Scavenger
Notable: Her debut portraying these characters.
Her SCR credits include: My Wandering Boy and Ben and the Magic Paintbrush.
Her other credits include: Gem of the Ocean, Argonautika, Madwoman of Chaillot, Immediate Family, You Can't Take it With You, The Winter's Tale, Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Nana, "S.W.A.T.," "The Unit," "Southland, "The Young and the Restless" "The District" and "City of Angels."
About A Christmas Carol: “I have always known of the story of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, but had never read it or seen a production of it. Growing up, it was not my family’s tradition to see plays. My first experience with the play came when my husband, Gregg Daniel was cast in the role of Jacob Marley. My daughter, Kennedy, and I made the trek down to South Coast Repertory to see him in the role. We were so delighted for him to get this opportunity to play Marley, since it’s usually not played with a person of color. As luck would have it, he went on to reprise the role for several years. This immediately became part of our family tradition—coming down to Costa Mesa to see him play the penny-pinching Jacob Marley."
New Favorite Tradition: "While it was not my experience growing up, I love the fact that this show has become a tradition for my family. The tables have now turned and this year my daughter and husband will be making the trek to see me in A Christmas Carol! I’m giddy with delight that the tradition still stands.
NAME: 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.
NAME: Art Koustik
Role(s): Joe, Ensemble
Notable: His 39th 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.”
NAME: Timothy Landfield
Role(s): Wreath Seller, Spirit of Christmas Present
Notable: His 20th 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!”
NAME: Hal Landon Jr.
Role: Ebenezer Scrooge
Notable: Originated the role of Ebenezer Scrooge 40 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.”
NAME: Rosney Mauger
Role(s): Jacob Marley as a Young Man, Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come.
Notable: He's an alumnus of SCR's Acting Intensive Program.
A Christmas Carol in General: “I was introduced to the story of A Christmas Carol when I was really young, watching the Muppets’ adaptation. Which is very funny to think about. I still do really love that version!”
Jacob Marley as a Young Man is: “Ebenezer’s business partner. I get to help portray the greed that may have helped influenced Scrooge’s greedy ways.”
My Favorite Holiday Tradition: “Waking up Christmas morning and being surrounded all around by family!”
Favorite Memory: “The first time I appeared in A Christmas Carol in 2015. I just remember looking out and seeing so many scarves and hats. I thought that we are absolutely fortunate to perform for people who genuinely love the show and exchange such a response; we can honestly feel that even as we leave the building. I realized on that first day how lucky I was to kick off the season for so many people.”
Challenge: “The only challenge I would have to say would be having to say goodbye to everyone on the final performance; that never really feels great. There really isn’t quite a cast like this on the planet!”
NAME: William Francis McGuire
Role(s): Gentleman, Mr. Fezziwig
Notable: His 12th 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 and now 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 be part of something we consider pretty special.”
NAME: Jennifer Parsons
Role(s): Mrs. Cratchit, Rich Woman
Notable: Her 17th 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 longtime, 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 ninth 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 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 Cratchits 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.”
Sixteen Theatre Conservatory Students are Featured in the Cast
Meet the young actors in the 40th anniversary production of A Christmas Carol in this video. Watch now.
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