NCC's 'Carol' is aimed at family crowd
By Annie Alleman For Sun-TImes Media November 27, 2010 7:00PM
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
When: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Dec. 4
Where: North Central College’s Pfeiffer Hall, 310 E. Benton Ave., Naperville
How much: $10/adults and $5/students and senior citizens
Contact: Call 630-637-7469 or visit www.northcentralcollege.edu/showtix
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
The first time Mark Woodard played the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, he wasn’t prepared for the emotional wallop he was about to receive.
“I was this big crybaby mess,” he admitted, laughing. “I played Scrooge for the first time in 2005, and seeing from his vantage point ... It was an emotional journey for me. Our first run-through, we were doing it for (the crew) and there were a lot of people watching. I got so emotional … (Scrooge) is so clamped up emotionally. That was easy to play — the anger and the closed-offness. Then we’re going back in his youth, and dealing with the death of his sister, and I became so emotional I couldn’t stop crying. It was weird actor therapy to go through that.”
Theatreworks USA’s musical interpretation of the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” will be Dec. 4 at North Central College. Two performances will be presented at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. in Pfeiffer Hall.
Woodward will appear as Scrooge. He has played been in various productions of “A Christmas Carol” six times. This is his third time playing Scrooge.
“This particular story and this particular part touches me on some level,” he said. “It’s nice to know I just had my 40th birthday this summer, and I’m on the younger side of this role. It’s nice to know I have a part to play for several years.”
“A Christmas Carol” is the redemptive story of the miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge. Theatreworks USA’s production packs a lot of music and action into a one-hour play. Although Charles Dickens’ original text can be downright frightening, as are various movie adaptations, parents shouldn’t be worried about bringing their kids to see it, he said.
“I think Dickens was painting with a heavy hand to show the extremes that his life had taken and could possibly take — he’s so closed-off, he needed a good scare,” he said. “This particular adaptation definitely leans more towards the heart and the warmth of the story. It’s more child-friendly. The scariest numbers are done in a very kid-friendly way, like when Jacob Marley comes to Scrooge in his bedroom and brings his ghost friends to sing to Scrooge. It’s done in a musical scene ... kind of tongue-in-cheek, like ‘Thriller.’ It’s an up-tempo number; it doesn’t go into anything real scary.
“(Scrooge) deals with the death of his sister, but we don’t sit there and dwell on it because we don’t want to upset the kids. But it is part of the story.”
The show employs six actors, and Woodard is the only one who doesn’t have to play multiple roles.
“It’s really fun for me to watch everybody come out as different characters,” he said.
“This adaptation is very smart and clever and streamlined,” he said. “There’s not a lot of spectacle going on to hold their attentions. It’s so great to watch kids get involved. Sometimes kids are seeing theater for the first time too, and that’s very rewarding. They get entertained by something that’s not explosions or ninjas or zombies.
“Although there are a couple of lightweight zombies in the Jacob Marley scenes,” he said with a laugh.
Not only is he glad he’s bringing the arts into the lives of students, he hopes the play’s message redeeming message of kindness and love gets through to the children who see the performances.
“I love doing the show at this time of year because it gets me into the spirit of it all,” he said. “I feel like I’m touching people’s lives.”