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By Brian Robin

The Story Behind The Photo: Scrooge and Marley

One reason for the enduring genius of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the many interlocking stories supporting the main storyline—the transformation of Ebenezer Scrooge from cranky miser to generous benefactor. Dickens’ timeless brilliance shows in each of those stories, providing a building block toward Scrooge’s redemption.

One of those stories is the rivalry between Scrooge and his late business partner, Jacob Marley. You see evidence at the Fezziwig Party, when the two rivals, later-turned-partners, let their rivalry boil over at a festive occasion.

Tommy Beck and Eduardo Enrikez play Young Eb and Young Marley in this year’s production, running through Dec. 24 on the Segerstrom Stage. This is Beck’s second year in the role, Enrikez’s first. Enrikez comes in with SCR credits as Sebastian in 2016’s Destiny of Desireand 2021’s Outside SCR production of American Mariachi.

An accomplished performance capture artist for such video game companies as 2K Games, Pixar, Epic Games and Industrial Light & Magic, Beck has appeared at the Marin Theatre Company, Kansas City Actors Theatre, San Francisco Playhouse, Aurora Theatre Company, TheatreWorks and City Lights Theater Company, among others. Along with many regional theatres around the United States, Enrikez appeared in numerous West End productions, including On Your Feet, Eating Raoul, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare Abridged, Time Square, Saturday Night Fever and Hair.

The pair took time away from A Christmas Carol to discuss the story behind the photo, above.

What moment does this photo depict?

Tommy Beck: “From my point of the character, there are competing philosophies. The scene before this, I’m rushing in and being greeted by Mr. Fezziwig after trying to finish my duties as a clerk. I wasn’t able to finish my job, which is collecting money. I come in more or less distraught about that. The one thing that underlies the scene for me are deep, deep insecurities about my position and my security. … That insecurity is what underlies Young Eb from the beginning, when he’s not able to close the deal. What’s great about Mr. Fezziwig is he says that’s OK, that’s not what’s important right now.

“But right after that, Young Marley shows up and he comes in really championing the fact he was able to get the money. He got the money and closed the deal. He did his job. … This showcases the rivalry these two characters have in the moment. They’re both clerks under Mr. Fezziwig and he hasn’t had two clerks before. Ebenezer’s position isn’t completely secure. There are a lot of motivations for Young Ebenezer to want to succeed. And what Marley does is he undercuts that in the passage of three or four lines of dialogue. He showcases his philosophy that closing the deal is the only thing that matters. That cuts into the heart of Ebenezer’s insecurity here.”

Eduardo Enrikez: “Ebenezer is a new apprentice at the Fezziwig firm and Young Marley has been there longer. He has seniority and he has the lay of the land. He feels threatened by Young Ebenezer, the new kid on the block. He’s trying to display showmanship, trying to tell Ebenezer to get in line, you’re not where you need to be. It intimidates Young Ebenezer a little bit. Young Marley sees Ebenezer as potentially someone trying to take his place. Someone who will come into the firm and be Mr. Fezziwig’s No. 1. He feels threatened by him. … Also, the fact Young Ebenezer is starting to be romantically involved with Belle. There’s a little jealousy as well, which of course, he will never let show.

“That’s what he’s basically trying to tell Young Ebenezer: ‘Listen, if you want to get ahead in life, you have to put your head down and do the work instead of going out with women. Not settling your account isn’t going to cut it if you want to get to higher places.’”

From an actor’s standpoint, how did you approach this?

TB: “What I’m trying to play here is the struggle between the philosophies of Mr. Fezziwig and Marley. Ebenezer is being pulled between both of those points. That’s the struggle as an actor I’m trying to bring to the audience in that moment.”

EE: “I have to display utter confidence in myself. The way I walk, the way I hold myself so I don’t show an ounce of cracks in my foundation. I have to be certain in my approach and tactical game that I’m attacking from all sides. I go in centered, making sure he doesn’t see certain things coming his way.”

Tell us what physical traits you brought that help tell the story

TB: “Technically, my character in this photo has his shoulder to Eduardo. … In this scene, my arms are crossed. I’m closed off to him because I’m not giving into Young Marley’s philosophy. I’m not open to him. I’m closed off. I’m trying to separate myself from him in space. He’s coming toward me and I open myself up to the audience.”

EE: “Nothing’s wasted. The way I pose, the way I take off my cape, the way I look at Young Ebenezer, the way I size him up and down, the way I look into his eyes and into his soul all says ‘I’m better than you. There’s no way you can come in here and take over my place in this firm.’”

What else can you tell us about playing your roles?

TB: “One thing I’ve worked hard to do and be conscious of in the rehearsal process is I’ve tried to take some of the physicality Richard Doyle employs as Scrooge and employ it as Young Ebenezer. Certain physical positions and things I’m doing with my hands are done because I want to call out the older Scrooge. I think that’s really important when actors are in shows with younger or older versions of themselves. I’m trying to establish vocal and physical connective tissue between Richard and me.

“You’ll see certain physical positions I get into that take elements of what Richard has been doing in his character. I try to layer bits of that in my character so if someone’s watching us, they can see similar body position of the two characters.”

EE: “I love playing this character. It’s so fun getting to play a period piece, a period play set in Britain a long time ago. As a Mexican, these roles really weren’t out there for me. To be able to jump into this time and this classic and dress the way we dress and handle ourselves with a British dialect is something that as an actor, it’s what you crave. As an actor, it’s what you you’ve worked for, bringing these characters who are so multi-layered from a different time, a different era and a different country to life. As a Mexican actor, to be able to jump into my arsenal and pull this out is good stuff.”

About the author

South Coast Repertory

South Coast Repertory is a Tony Award-winning theatre is known for producing classics, contemporary hits and world premieres, for having the largest new-play development program in the nation and for advancing the art of theatre in service to the community. 

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