Shakespeare Festival unplugs for ‘A Christmas Carol’ shows

Dec. 18, 2013 @ 09:39 AM

You know the saying, “The show must go on?”
That’s exactly how the leaders of the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival feel about the production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” they’ve staged for 36 years. So they decided financial difficulties and limited operations would not stop them this year.
They just downsized the production, which this year will be titled “A Christmas Carol Unplugged,” and will be performed Friday and Sunday at the High Point Theatre.
“We were bemoaning the loss of ‘A Christmas Carol’ (this year), and all of a sudden it just struck us that, well, what if we did a version of it and made it a fundraiser that hopefully would address two issues?” said Pedro Silva, NCSF managing director, who will both direct and star as Scrooge in the shows. Silva also wanted to maintain the tradition for those theatergoers who see “A Christmas Carol” year after year.
The Shakespeare Festival long has considered “A Christmas Carol” its gift to the community, and this year the actors and everyone associated with the production are donating their time.
“Everyone’s giving; everyone’s pitching in,” Silva said. “We’re doing it not only for the Shakespeare Festival but for people in the community who love ‘A Christmas Carol.’ ”
Many familiar cast members will return this year, including Lucius Houghton as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Houghton was a company regular in the early days, and he has returned to perform periodically  since.
Silva calls the unplugged version of the classic tale of redemption “chamber theater,” which in this case means “to share an event,” he said.
The production features the usual complement of more than 20 actors, live music and caroling. The actors are “A Christmas Carol” regulars who know their lines so well they recite, rather than read them, as in a readers-theater production. 
There will be no sets, backdrops or costumes. The entire company will be on stage at all times, seated, and they will stand and move forward when they are in a scene.
“It will be what patrons have come to love,” Silva said. “We’re just not going to have all the trappings people have come to associate with the production. By stripping all of those away, there will be an even more powerful communication, a focused attention.
“This is not about being austere, although reality moves us in that direction. It’s about being able to deeply move our audience with the beautiful story Dickens has created for us.
“Some people are possibly going to find the approach even more scintillating, more invigorating, than perhaps they’ve ever experienced before. There will be a concentration of telling and sharing of the story that will be keener and more intense.”  

vknopfler@hpe.com / 888-3601  

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In brief


What: “A Christmas Carol Unplugged”

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Sunday

Where: High Point Theatre, 220 E. Commerce Ave.

Tickets: Pay-all-that-you-can fundraiser, with a suggested minimum of $25 (amounts exceeding $25 are tax deductible); tickets available at the theater box office, 887-3001, online at www.highpointtheatre.com

Online: www.ncshakes.org