Don Took and Hal Landon Jr. in the 2002 production of A Christmas Carol.
SCR Founding Artist Don Took played Jacob Marley’s Ghost (and some other of the ‘spirits’) in A Christmas Carol during his 26 years in the show. He was one of six actors—founding artists—to join the theatre in its very early years. During the show’s 40th anniversary run, we asked him to share some of his favorite Christmas Carol memories. Here’s what he had to say about his most memorable moments throughout his Christmas Carol years. This is his story, as told to Beth Fhaner.
We—Art Koustik (Joe; Mr. Fezziwig); Richard Doyle (Ghost of Christmas Past); Hal Landon Jr. (Ebenezer Scrooge); and myself—meet for lunch once a month at a Mexican restaurant in Costa Mesa; four comrades, four veterans. Between the four of us, we’ve been acting at SCR for more than 150 years and for almost that long as members of the cast of A Christmas Carol.
These men are my dear friends, my theatrical family. We have grown up and grown old together. We were in our 20s when we started SCR and now we are near or over 80. And a major part of our ongoing history with SCR has been our annual involvement with A Christmas Carol.
For me, A Christmas Carol is not only a celebration of the spirit of Christmas, but also a celebration of the spirit and success of SCR as a family of theatrical actors and artists. Over the years, A Christmas Carol provided an annual opportunity to renew old friendships and make new ones. We watched as kids in the cast grew up and had kids of their own who also became members of the cast. It truly was a family experience from the very beginning in the mixture of the generations.
I have many fond memories, of course, and these are just a few:
For many years, my friend, the irrepressible Richard Soto (Young Ebenezer) and I made more than 100 tacos for the cast and crew at the annual Christmas Carol taco feed. We consumed them all, along with many wonderful side dishes, between shows on a selected Sunday. There were never any leftovers.
Jacob Marley had to be scary. He was a ghost, after all, but I always felt a teeny, tiny twinge of remorse when a parent had to take their screaming child out of the auditorium during my scene. But simultaneously came the thought: Job well done.
Every year, Mr. Scrooge almost always had a special treat in store at the last performance. When he opened the trunk at the foot of his bed to check for ghosts, there would very often be a special mystery guest staring up at him…seen only by Hal. Members of the cast would vie to be chosen for this honor.
It was always fun to look out at the audience and see the proliferation of red scarves increase as we got closer and closer to Christmas; Hal wears a bright red scarf on Christmas morning in the play.
It became a personal tradition, in the spirit of the season, for me to repair to The Five Crowns in Corona Del Mar after the last show of the run to dine on roast beef and enjoy the bell-ringing carolers.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the devotion, dedication and exuberance of the intrepid John-David Keller in bringing Jerry Patch’s adaptation of Dickens’ masterpiece to life every year for the last 40 years. JD not only performed in the play, but directed it for each of its 40 years with consummate care, clucking like a mother hen over the kids in the cast and keeping the rest of us toeing our marks. Well done, John-David.
And well done all—all of the hundreds who have taken part in A Christmas Carol over the years. As actors, stage crew, artists and staff, we’ve been very lucky and privileged to play our parts and be a part of SCR’s A Christmas Carol. I’ll give the last word to Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one.”
The 40th Anniversary run of A Christmas Carol is sold out. To inquire about standby tickets, call the Box Office at (714) 708-5555.