BWW Blog: Mark Price of Off-Broadway's A CHRISTMAS CAROL - 'Christmas is a Time of Love, Sir, of Giving and Forgiving'
"Christmas is a time of love, sir. And giving and forgiving."
For some New Yorkers, the last six weeks of the year becomes an adrenaline-fueled rush to meet deadlines at a neck-breaking pace, the final push to finish up business before the New Year approaches. But for some performers, it means spreading Christmas cheer eight times a week.
This year, I was fortunate to be working here in the city, but considered myself the odd man out since I'd never seen a stage version of A Christmas Carol. I had always been a fan of the 1951 film starring Alastair Sim, but when the opportunity came along to do this five-person adaptation from Patrick Barlow, I balked at first. I had three weeks to learn how to play a Bodhran, or Irish drum, while singing a handful of Christmas Carols on a spinning set (this is coming from someone who failed every music theory class in college), as well as operate a miniature marionette version of Tiny Tim (I swore off puppets after a disastrous mishap during a musical with dancing vampires). Despite this handful of "firsts" that would put me outside my comfort zone, working with this insanely talented company under Joe Calarco's direction has been the true gift in disguise.
The holidays can be a maddening time for anyone. Here in the city, you are subjected to the commercialization of good tidings everywhere you turn, whether it's Mariah Carey's voice belting out carols in Duane Reade, decorations weeks before the month of Dec., or Black Friday deals that can turn into a blood sport. It's easy to forget the true nature of the season.
I try to be mindful of the joy I still have for the holiday. It was always my mother's favorite season, but after she passed a few years back, I was determined to protect that joy. What struck me about this adaptation was how clearly it showed the accumulative effects of lack of love, something anyone who's experienced loss or family discord can relate to.
"Made me think. Love and the not getting of it...is bad enough. But love and the not giving of it can lock a man's soul up for eternity."
Everyone has their own favorite interpretations of Scrooge, most often think of him as a cantankerous old miser, but what Joe and Patrick had so wisely highlighted in this version is the journey of how that came to be, how the heart slowly hardens for anyone who's unwilling to let go. It's a universal theme that couldn't be more present today as it was back during the Industrial Revolution.
So now every time I hear Mariah wailing about what she wants for Christmas while purchasing toilet paper, or when I'm scurrying through endless busloads of visitors in midtown Manhattan, I'm constantly reminding myself of the universal truth we get to tell nightly of forgiveness and letting go in our humble adaptation, and the rush of joy and love that can happen when we do.
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