The Building Stage has announced the return of Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs 'A Christmas Carol.' Again., created and performed by The Building Stage's Founder and Artistic Director Blake Montgomery, at The Building Stage, 412 N. Carpenter Street in Chicago's West Loop, November 29 – December 24. The performance runs 95 minutes without an intermission. Previews are Thursday, Nov. 29 at 8 p.m., Friday, Nov. 30 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 1 at 8 p.m. Opening/press night is Sunday, December 2 at 7 p.m. 

The regular performance schedule is Thursday and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 4 and 8 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. There are two additional performances, Sunday, Dec. 23 at 8 p.m. and Christmas Eve, Monday, Dec. 24 at 2 p.m. Tickets for the previews are students/children: $5, adults: $15 and for the regular run, students/children: $15/$20 and adults: $25/$30. Tickets may be purchased at or by calling The Building Stage box office at (312) 491-1369.

In 1853, ten years after having dashed off his surprisingly successful holiday story, A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens gave his first public reading of the work. The effort was so well received, as well as providing much needed cash, that Dickens continued to perform these celebrated readings for the rest of his career. Now, almost 160 years later, performances of A Christmas Carol have become one of our most enduring holiday traditions.

In Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs 'A Christmas Carol.' Again., the only problem is that Dickens, himself, has long grown tired of this annual reading. Reports of his death in 1870 were greatly exaggerated, and year after year he has sustained himself with these solo performances - albeit with dwindling enthusiasm as he has moved from the grand concert halls of London to finally, this year, The Building Stage in Chicago's industrial West Loop. Now, as the world celebrates the 200th anniversary of his birth, Dickens has finally reached the breaking point. He knows he must grant the holiday wishes of his audience but desperately hopes to entertain them with anything but another performance of A Christmas Carol.

Building Stage Presents CHARLES DICKENS BEGRUDGINGLY PERFORMS 'A CHRISTMAS CAROL'. AGAIN., 11/29-12/24Created and performed by The Building Stage artistic director Blake Montgomery, Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs 'A Christmas Carol.' Again. both celebrates and skewers our attachment to this classic tale. Performed in an invitingly warm Victorian atmosphere filled with holiday treats and traditions, the play captures the essence of the Dickens story and provides an affectionate view of the great author himself rediscovering his own passion.

During its inaugural run in 2011, the performance was a popular anecdote to Holiday weariness playing to packed houses. The performance was READER RECOMMENDED, with reviewer Kerry Reid saying "Montgomery's smart, heartfelt reinvention proves that you don't need fake snow and flying ghosts to make the tale resonate," and Time Out Chicago's Oliver Sava calling Montgomery "a skilled, charming performer." This year's production has been revised to build on this solid foundation, incorporating the lessons learned from the audience and reshaping the material in honor of the 2012 Dickens Bicentennial.

Blake Montgomery, founder and artistic director of The Building Stage, is an actor and director whose approach to theater reflects his training at L'École Internationale de théâtre Jacques Lecoq (as well as its scenographic wing, Le Laboratoire d'Etude du Mouvement), the Dell'Arte School of Physical Theater, the Margolis-Brown Movement Theater Lab and with master clown Ronlin Foreman. Montgomery has conceived and/or directed The Building Stage productions: Hamlet, Dustbowl Gothic, Moby-Dick (originally in 2006 and revised in 2011), Noir, Dracula,The Franklin Expedition, Hänsel und Gretel, and Life is a Dream; with Joanie Schultz, he co-directed The Ring Cycle. Montgomery played Halvard Solness in The Building Stage production of The Master Builder. He has appeared as Dr. Prentice in What the Butler Saw at the Court Theater and as Drosselmeyer in The House Theatre of Chicago's The Nutcracker. Previous to founding The Building Stage, he worked with Redmoon Theater with whom he performed in Seagull, Nina, and Salao: The Worst Kind of Unlucky.

This is the second time in his career that Mr. Montgomery has performed a solo show. In 1999, soon after having made Chicago his home, he performed as the Victorian author Wilkie Collins in a solo performance adaptation of Collins' novel The Woman in White. Charles Dickens played a key role in that production as the offstage villain whose looming presence - or more precisely, whose absence - was the driving force behind the action. In many ways, Charles Dickens Begrudgingly Performs... is the companion to Montgomery's The Woman in White.

The Building Stage opened its doors with a critically acclaimed new vision of Hamlet in the fall of 2005, described as "an exquisite bare-bones [production]" (Performink Year in Review), and "a triumph of extraordinary achievement" (Gay Chicago). Since then the company has been honored with After Dark Awards for Outstanding Production (Dustbowl Gothic, 2006) and Outstanding Technical Achievement (Noir, 2007). During the 2011/12 season the company's production of Moby-Dick was awarded three Non-Equity Jeff Awards (New Adaptation, Original Incidental Music, Artistic Specialization: Percussion) and was nominated for two others (Director - Play, Ensemble).

The Building Stage exists to create original theatrical events that celebrate, mourn, explore, and question our world and ourselves. Serving as both a neighborhood theater and a cultural destination, the company seeks to combine an entertaining, approachable experience with unique and challenging artistic products, in the hope of rediscovering the vital role that theater can play in American cultural life.

The Building Stage company members include: Daiva Bhandari, Chelsea Keenan, Pamela Maurer, Jon Stutzman, and Max Wirt.

Photo Credit: Chelsea Keenan

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