Guthrie Theatre Opens A CHRISTMAS CAROL

Guthrie-Theatre-Opens-A-CHRISTMAS-CAROL-20010101

The Guthrie Theater last week opened its six-week run of Crispin Whittell's adaptation of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, the 37th year the play has been presented at the Guthrie but only the second year under Artistic Director Joe Dowling's direction. The Guthrie's production features J.C. Cutler in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge for the first time. Cutler has been involved in 30 productions at the Guthrie since 1993, including five productions of A Christmas Carol – appearing as Bob Cratchit (1995, 1997), Banker (1996) and Young Scrooge (1993, 1994) – and was last seen on a Guthrie stage in this past spring's production of George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man.

More than 800 actors have appeared in the Guthrie holiday production of Dickens' immortal story over the last 36 years, including many recognizable local names, as well as actors with flourishing careers outside the Twin Cities in film and television. This year's production features returning cast members Sam Bardwell (Topper / Dick Wilkins / Jobber #2), Virginia S. Burke (Mrs. Cratchit / Robinson Crusoe's Parrot), Bob Davis (Old Joe / Jacob Marley), Nathaniel Fuller (George, the Bailiff / Mr. Sykes, the Schoolmaster / Bear, a Banker), Summer Hagen (Daisy Fezziwig / Mabel), Kathryn Lawrey (Belle / Wimple's Wife / Kitty, Fred's Wife), Kris L. Nelson (Bob Cratchit / Donald), Lee Mark Nelson (Mr. Fezziwig / Mr. Bones / Scrooge's Priest), Isabell Monk O'Connor (Mrs. Dilber / Bumble), Angela Timberman (Merriweather) and Suzanne Warmanen (Mrs. Fezziwig / Bunty).

Joining this year's cast are Robert O. Berdahl (The Ghost of Christmas Present / Ali Baba / Bull, a Banker), John Catron (Fred / Daniel / Jobber #1), Emily Gunyou Halaas (Dora Fezziwig / Street Lady / Jane), and Tracey Maloney (The Ghost of Christmas Past, Mrs. Polkinghorne).

In addition to Bardwell and Lawrey, this year's production will feature the talents of four other University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater B.F.A. Actor Training Program alumni, including Zach Fineblum (Young Scrooge / Broker), Stuart Gates (Mr. Wimple / David), Anna Reichert (Deidre Fezziwig / Sally) and Benjamin Rosenbaum (The Ghost of Christmas Future / Belle's Husband).

A 13-member children's ensemble rounds out the cast. Returning ensemble members include Archer Gallivan, Kate Howell, Ella R. Nelson, Andrew Moy and Noah Ross as Tiny Tim. Joining this year's ensemble are Jacob Becker, Gianna Bonello-Freund, Hazel Cutting, Quinn Jenkins, Amelia Lacplese, Landon McDermott, Noah Ratgen and Alexis Torrez.

The artistic team includes Walt Spangler (Set Designer), Mathew J. LeFebvre (Costume Designer), Christopher Akerlind (Lighting Designer), Keith Thomas (Composer) and Scott W. Edwards (Sound Designer).

The production team includes Jo Holcomb (Dramaturg), D'Arcy Smith (Voice and Dialect Coach), Joe Chvala (Movement), John Stead (Aerial Flight Director), Michele Harms (Stage Manager), James McNamara (Associate Director) and Jason Clusman (Assistant Stage Manager).

Firmly rooted as a ghost story, just as Dickens conceived it, the Guthrie's production of A Christmas Carol begins in a snowstorm in the middle of a London graveyard, slowly receding as the hustle and bustle of the London streets come in to view. Most will know what happens next, but just how it will happen is a holiday surprise. A miserly and miserable man, Scrooge resents generosity on all occasions and greets each Christmas with his well-known "bah humbug," until he is visited one Christmas Eve by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. Through a restless night, the three spirits show him happy memories from his past, cruel realities from the present and the desolate future should he continue his cantankerous ways. From that point forward, no one has kept Christmas as faithfully or fruitfully as old Ebenezer Scrooge, whose story of redemption, beloved by audiences for years, remains as powerful and uplifting as it ever was.

A Christmas Carol began preview performances on November 19, opened November 23 and continues through December 30, 2011, on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. Single tickets start at $34 and are now on sale through the Guthrie Box Office at 612.377.2224, toll-free 877.44.STAGE, 612.225.6244 (Group Sales) and online at www.guthrietheater.org.

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