Ray Gora / Lincoln Times-News
Ebeneezer Scrooge (Darrin Stroud) points to a money box, one of the items that the ghost of Jacob Marley (Danny Hester) has been burdened with in the afterlife, as the Lincoln Theatre Guild conducts a Monday dress rehearsal for “Mr Scrooge.”
The Lincoln Theatre Guild will present a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” on Friday, bringing to life the story of grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge and his journey with the ghosts that accompany him through his past, present and what’s to come, in hopes of helping him change his ways.
Directed by Angela Stroud, the group of actors is diverse, from their ages to their levels of experience; school-aged choir girls lighten the mood, with 30 minutes of song to open up the play, and more seasoned pros are peppered throughout the cast, honing in on their inner-Scrooge or Mrs. Cratchit.
Scrooge, portrayed by Darrin Stroud — a first-year acting rookie — hopes the message of a miser learning from his mistakes and appreciating the non-material parts of life, will get local residents back in the holiday spirit.
“There’s a little bit of Scrooge in all of us,” Stroud laughed. “We always have to step back and see what it’s (Christmas) all about; hopefully people will re-think what’s important in life.”
Along with his director-wife, Stroud also will be alongside his three children on stage, too, something that inspired him to audition; he thought it would be fun to be involved with something as a family.
A classic with a twist, the production brings humor to the at-times somber tale of an elderly man who lost the joy of giving. Scrooge is first met by the Ghost of Jacob Marley — his former business partner, played by Danny Hester. Hester will set the stage for what’s next for both Scrooge and the audience, explaining the later-introduction of the Ghosts of Past, Present and Christmas Yet to Come.
An actor in various Theatre Guild plays, Tony Willis is the second ghost to meet with Scrooge — the Ghost of Christmas Present — who takes Scrooge to other happy homes where families are spending time together and enjoying each others’ company. This portion of the show will also focus on Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, whose son Tiny Tim is ill and can’t afford treatment because of his father’s low wages and Scrooge’s stubbornness to pay Cratchit more money.
Willis describes his role to be in the business of changing a man’s life for the better, leaving the rest to the imagination of the audience. Though he has been involved in about 12 productions, this will be Willis’ first time performing in the Dickens story.
And so far, he loves it.
Though each ghost has a significant chunk of time in front of the audience, Stroud believes one of the more understated cast members may be the show stealer — Scrooge’s housekeeper Mrs. Dilber, depicted by Anne Michael.
Michael, a first-time actress, will bring her wit and charm to the stage as she transforms to a sophisticated woman, to an “old hag,” she explained, and will be going back and forth between different versions of her character throughout the show.
After hearing about the opportunity to audition, Michael decided to do some research and reviewed a 1951 version of the Dickens tale and thought, ‘Hey, I can do this,’ ” she said.
On a whim, she decided to try out and wound up getting the part she believes is the most fun to play. After going through all of her lines, Stroud then asked Michael to do it over again with a British accent. Not sure how she would sing with a dialect foreign to her, she took a second to collect her thoughts and just went for it.
Though not receiving as much stage time as some of her co-actors, her time on stage will be something to remember, Stroud believes, and will help incorporate the comedic aspect of the story.
Along with keeping Scrooge’s house tidy, she also designed costumes for the show, turning curtains and fabrics from local stores into cloaks for the other cast members.
Stroud, who worked on other Theatre Guild productions, such as a Mother Goose nursery rhyme children’s play, has been involved in various drama camps over the years and has even done some acting herself.
“The show isn’t exactly like the original, but everyone will recognize it,” Stroud said. “The cast makes it interesting and fun, and that’s what makes a good play. I think it will help show that there’s more to Christmas than getting, it’s more about giving.”
At 7 p.m. on Friday at the Cultural Center, Scrooge and his cast mates welcome patrons to the first showing, followed by performances on Dec. 1, Dec. 2 and Dec. 7 through Dec. 9.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students and seniors. Sunday viewings are at 3 p.m and at 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturdays.
Call (704) 452-7830 for more information.