VALLEJO — After being shown the error of his ways, Christmas-denier Ebenezer Scrooge got rid of the blackness in his heart last year and replaced it with the joy of the season.
Evidently he’s back to being black-hearted again and the respective Ghosts of Christmas – with the help of Bay Area Stage Productions – hope to once again transform the cantankerous penny-pincher into an exuberant Christmas celebrant in their production of “Scrooge: The Musical.”
The story of Charles’ Dickens miserly curmudgeon’s harrowing Christmas redemption has been brought back to the Bay Terrace Theatre by popular demand. Bay Area Stage Productions co-founder and director Jeff Lowe looks upon it as a wonderful traditional story to help get theatergoers into the Christmas spirit.
“It has been kind of like when you watched the kids in the ‘Brady Bunch’ as they got older,” Lowe said. “I’ve threatened to make the guys get curly perms like the boys did on the TV show. Dylan Hayes, who played little Peter Cratchit last year and also played the Artful Dodger in our production of ‘Oliver!,’ is now playing a little larger Peter Cratchit this year.”
The major change in the show this year is that Lowe will sit in the director’s chair, but will not wear a stocking cap. In 2011, Lowe played the title role. This year, Scrooge will be played by Buddy Nash, who Lowe describes as a “wonderful actor and vocalist.”
Besides the time commitment and challenges of being the director and star, the character itself was mentally taxing for Lowe.
“I couldn’t direct and be Scrooge again. It literally took a physical toll on me,” Lowe said. “The character goes from a miserly, mean, horrible, despicable creature of a man who turns into a bright, likeable guy and to get there is a real journey as an actor.
“If you are going to sell it, you have to live it and be in the moment. It’s like cramming someone else’s lifetime into a two-hour block and for someone who goes through what Ebenezer does, that’s a lot of lifetime.”
Nearly 40 actors will fill the stage for “Scrooge: The Musical,” which is actually a little less than last year. Many of them are family members, such as Buddy Nash’s daughter Margaret (aka Bunny Nash), who plays The Ghost of Christmas Past.
One person involved in last year’s production who was unable to participate this year is Stacey Loew, Bay Area Stage Production’s other co-founder. Loew is busy directing the company’s next offering, “The Pirates of Penzance,” opening in January at the Vallejo Naval Museum.
While “A Christmas Carol” is one of Dickens’ best-known works and has been made into numerous adaptations, Lowe is aware that there are still people, especially young ones, to whom the Bay Area State Productions play may be their introduction to the story.
“One of the main things I want to do is educate young people on why we are doing this show,” Lowe said. “It works for putting that feeling of Christmas out there and having people leave with the song ‘Thank You Very Much’ imprinted on their brain cells. It is a timeless story of redemption.”
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].