Scrooge's back: Troupe tackles Bah-humbug
Perhaps Charles Dickens did not know that he was penning the definitive seasonal story when he wrote A Christmas Carol more than a century ago, but adaptations of his tale of ghosts and greed haunt holiday stages all over the country this time of year.
Shenandoah Shakespeare, the Staunton troupe that has recently opened the Blackfriars Playhouse, a theater modeled after its namesake in London, home to many of the Bard’s first productions, offers the classic as part of their December line-up.
They began what may become a tradition last year with a version of the story of Ebenezer Scrooge– too stingy to treat his employees with decency and too cantankerous to be liked by anyone— set in the 1860s in Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. This year’s adaptation, written and directed by Fred Nelson, takes the audience back to England in the mid-1800s for the story of a man who ultimately learns his lessons well. The actors who form the ensemble for the show are the first Resident Troupe for the company; in the fall they performed Julius Caesar, Richard III, and Twelfth Night.
David Loar returns for a second year to bring to life the role of the crotchety Scrooge; all of the other actors play multiple roles. Among the performers is John Harrell, one of the co-founders of the local theater company Foolery, who takes on the roles of Marley’s Ghost, the Ghost of Christmas Future, and the Plump Sister. Jenny McNee, another member of the Charlottesville theater scene, designed the show’s costumes.
The Blackfriars Playhouse opened for business in 2001 and is the world’s only authentic recreation of Shakespeare’s indoor theater (which preceded the larger Globe). So far, it has played host to visitors and audience members from 49 states.
An internationally acclaimed theater company, Shenandoah Shakespeare wants to make the Bard’s work accessible to everyone. In addition to the plays they produce in Staunton, the company also hosts a touring arm that has performed in most of the 50 states and in five foreign countries since its inception in the late 1980s.
So join the crowds: Take a trip over the mountain, see a familiar holiday story, and experience theater the way audiences may have several centuries ago.
A Christmas Carol plays through December 29, Wednesday-Saturday at 7:30pm with Saturday and Sunday matinees at 2:30pm. Special performances December 19, 23, and 24 at 1:30pm. No shows December 12, 15, and 25. Blackfriars Playhouse, 11 E. Beverly St., Staunton. $10-26. 540-885-5588 or shenandoahshakespeare.com.