Dickens' Holiday Classic A Christmas Carol from A.C.T.
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The last date listed for A Christmas Carol was Friday December 17, 2004 / 7:00pm.
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Quotes & Highlights
“The gasp-provoking ghosts come magically and thrillingly to life in A.C.T.’s shining production.” —San Francisco Chroncile
“The most wonderful way to welcome the Christmas season.” —KGO Radio
“A TRIUMPH! An inviting bit of holiday escapism.” —San Jose Mercury News
American Conservatory Theater presents Laird Williamson and Dennis Powers’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’s holiday favorite, A Christmas Carol, directed by A.C.T. Young Conservatory director and associate artist Craig Slaight and featuring A.C.T. core company actor Steven Anthony Jones as Scrooge, at the Geary Theater.
Having premiered in 1976, A.C.T.‘s beloved production of Dickens’s “ghost story for Christmas” has long been one of the
Bay Area’s most cherished holiday traditions, deemed “a shining production” by the San Francisco Chronicle “a triumph” by the San Jose Mercury News. In its Geary production history, more than 1000 actors have performed in A Christmas Carol to a combined audience of more than 795,000 patrons.
“To articulate exactly what Laird Williamson and Dennis Powers’s A Christmas Carol has meant to A.C.T. in its 27 year production history is a near impossible task,” said A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey
Perloff. “A Christmas Carol at A.C.T. has often been the first piece of theater that Bay Area families have brought their youngest children to, and for many of our performers with the Young Conservatory it has represented their first outing on a professional stage. Actors who have made their debut in the production have returned to it later in their careers, in some cases bringing their children along to play a part. We are thrilled to present this perennial favorite once again!”
A Christmas Carol follows the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, who over the course of a long Christmas Eve is visited by four ghosts (Christmases Past, Present, and Future, as well as Scrooge’s former business partner, Jacob Marley), who guide his transformation from cold-hearted miser into beloved philanthropist. First published in 1843, Dickens’s A Christmas Carol remains one of literature’s most quoted and most enduring stories of hope and triumph.
A.C.T. Associate Artist and core acting company member Steven Anthony Jones returns as Scrooge in A.C.T.’s 27th
edition of A Christmas Carol. Jones, a veteran of more than two decades of A.C.T. productions, was most recently seen at the Geary Theater as Wesley Slaton in the world premiere production of S. M. Shephard-Massat’s Levee James. Jones has also performed at the Geary in Waiting for Godot, Buried Child, “Master Harold”… and the boys, Tartuffe,The Invention of Love, The Threepenny Opera, and Othello.
This year’s staging of A Christmas Carol features four of the Bay Area’s most popular actors, who create several of Dickens’s most memorable and vivid characters. Tommy A. Gomez returns to
the production in roles he has, in recent years, made his own—the Ghost of Christmas Present and Charles Dickens, himself. A.C.T. alumnus Brian Keith Russell and Cindy Goldfield will play the party-loving Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig, and Rhonnie Washington returns as Scrooge’s foreboding nightmare of a guest, the Ghost of Jacob Marley.
Joining this year’s cast of A Christmas Carol are 15 third-year students from the Master of Fine Arts Program—12 of whom appeared in the M.F.A. production of Kaufman and Hart’s Once in a Lifetime at Zeum Theater in October, and three of whom are appearing in Stoppard’s The Real Thing, directed by Carey Perloff at the Geary Theater, October 21-November 21. They are joined by 18 students from the Young Conservatory, many of whom are double and triple cast in both principal and supporting roles.
“It is rare in the American theater to find work that is truly ‘intergenerational,’ and yet theater has always been an art form handed down by master artists to younger artists, generation after generation,” says Slaight. “At A.C.T. we embrace this concept in everything we do. In A Christmas Carol, our young professional actors perform alongside some of the finest master actors in the country.”
Slaight has initiated a mentor program for the sake of the younger members of the cast of A Christmas Carol, whereby the M.F.A. student actors are each assigned a child performer to look after over the course of rehearsals and throughout the production run. Slaight builds time into the rehearsal process where the young performers may ask their older peers questions about how they overcome problems in creating a role and resolving issues that they may encounter as they move toward performance. Mentors will often warm up with their pupils before rehearsal and performance, and during meal breaks and on two-show days, mentors and young performers dine together. A similar system of sharing exists between the M.F.A. actors and their more seasoned professional counterparts.
“It is amazing to see almost every M.F.A. and professional actor come to both rehearsals and performance and take part in this process,” says Slaight. “These meal excursions and warm-up exercises are unlegislated but completely shared right up the ladder.”
As director of the Young Conservatory since 1988, Slaight has brought international recognition to the company’s training program for young students, particularly through the Young Conservatory’s New Plays Program, which is acknowledged to be this country’s leader in commissioning new intergenerational works from the world’s most prominent playwrights. A director of many of the Young Conservatory’s commissioned world premiere plays, Slaight is an award-winning professional director and a frequent guest artist at theaters throughout the country and in England.
A.C.T.‘s resident music director Peter Maleitzke will again lead the musical preparation for A Christmas Carol. As the principal voice teacher for the conservatory, Maleitzke has worked on many of the company’s musical productions, including the world premieres of The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, No for an Answer, and The First Picture Show, as well as the acclaimed revival of The Threepenny Opera.
The design team of A Christmas Carol consists of Robert Blackman (sets), Robert Morgan (costumes), Peter Maradudin (lights), and A.C.T. Resident Sound Designer Garth Hemphill (sound). The original music score is by Lee Hoiby, with movement designed by Christine Mattison.