Interview: Jason Chanos of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Kansas City Repertory Theatre

For the 43rd Year at KCRep

By: Nov. 14, 2023
Interview: Jason Chanos of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Kansas City Repertory Theatre
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The Kansas City holiday season officially begins on November 21st with the forty-second annual iteration of the Kansas City Repertory Theatre Production of Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella “A Christmas Carol.  Director Jason Chanos is excited about this new mounting of the annual classic. Chanos is both the director of this production and the Associate Artistic Director of Kansas City Repertory Theatre.

I recently had the pleasure of an extended conversation with Jason about this year’s show and a wide range of topics that go far beyond my poor ability to recount.  This is a genuinely nice man with a long personal history at KC Rep (now in its sixtieth anniversary year) and an infectious excitement about this annual highlight production.  

Prior to directing, Chanos was a veteran participant in “A Christmas Carol” as Bob Cratchit, Ebenezer Scrooge’s clerk and dedicated family man.

Interview: Jason Chanos of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Kansas City Repertory Theatre
2023 Christmas Carol
Director Jason Chanos

“It is surprising the level of stress you absorb (as a director) knowing you are about to serve up something with which they are familiar to an audience of over twenty-thousand audience members,” said Chanos.  This is the third time Chanos has directed “A Christmas Carol,” not including a video version filmed during the pandemic year.

The original short novella formally titled “A Christmas Carol, In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas” was divided into five chapters (staves) by Charles Dickens appeared on December 19, 1843.   As was often the case with Dickens, he was amid a financial disagreement with his publisher. So, he paid for the original press run of six thousand copies personally.  The book was priced at the modern retail price of slightly more than $28.00.   It sold out in six days.

“A Christmas Carol” was so popular it transitioned to the stage almost immediately.  One version by a playwright named Edward Stirling opened on February 5, 1844 with Dickens’ permission and ran over forty performances. “A Christmas Carol” has been pirated, adapted and produced on stage dozen of times since the originals.   Dickens sued some of the early copyright pirates.  He often performed the book personally on in-person lecture tours, including two to the United States.    

Interview: Jason Chanos of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Kansas City Repertory Theatre
Gary Neal Johnson as 
Ebenezer Scrooge

The Kansas City Repertory Theatre adaption of “A Christmas Carol” is by Los Angeles area playwright Geoff Elliott.  It is the third different scripting performed by KC Rep in the forty-three productions since the beginning of the series. 

“I visited five or six different productions and read dozens of scripts before settling on Geoff’s adaption,” said Chanos.  “It is the closest in language to the original novella by Dickens and captures more of the intended spirit.  The Elliott adaption also gives us more flexibility than we’ve ever had in this most well-known of stories.”   

“Every year, we try to bring new emotional experiences to the audience. During our rehearsals in years past, we may have run out of time to dive as deeply as we might have into the details of the story.  We have doubled down this year and focused on giving the audience even more,” said Director Chanos.

What’s new this year?  According to Chanos, the 2023 edition of “A Christmas Carol” features a new costume designer, a new choreographer, some new actors, some veteran actors from previous productions in new roles, and even one of the director’s sons in the cast.   Nedra Dixon joins the cast this year as “The Storyteller.  John Rensenhouse

Interview: Jason Chanos of A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Kansas City Repertory Theatre
John Rensenhouse as 
Jacob Marley

returns…this year in a triple role.

“And, of course, Gary Neal Johnson returns as Ebenezer Scrooge.  Gary is even more focused and present in the part this year. I am excited for the people to see him.   Gary is always exciting to see, but this year I see an extra spark.  There is an extra willingness to put it all out there for the audience,” continued Chanos. 

“I am awakened with a new perspective this year. Our actors make the classic words sing.  The show takes flight as we add the technical elements,” said Chanos.  “Christmas Carol shows that the main character can always transform into a better person at the end of the day.” 

“I guess directing this show has proven I drink the Kool-Aid and I believe in the heartwarming classic ending of “The Christmas Carol.” My son will get the chance to learn the timeless messages from the inside as a first-time viewer of the story and at the same time as a new audience member,” he said.

KCRep Artistic Director Stuart Carden invites audience members to live caroling, cookies, and cocoa in the lobby at intermission along with a family selfie in front of our towering Christmas tree.  They are all a part of our one-of-a-kind holiday experience at KCRep. Join for the first time or the forty-third  time.  The magic of “A Christmas Carol” with the KCRep never gets old.

Kansas City Repertory Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol” opens at the Spencer Theatre on the UMKC campus at 4949 Cherry Street in Kansas City on November 21 and continues through Christmas Eve, December 24.  Tickets are available online at www.kcrep.org or by telephone at the box office (816) 235-2700.

2022 Photos courtesy of Kansas City Repertory Theatre.




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