Q: Tell us a little bit about your background as a director. What brought you to this area of the theatre industry in particular?
A: I went to school to study acting in undergrad and I had a movement teacher who was one of the founders of the Society of American Fight Directors. I started working as an assistant fight director and as a fight captain, which meant I was directing a scene or two at a time. It was a natural progression, going from doing a scene in the play to doing the whole play.
Q: You’re currently in your seventh season directing A Christmas Carol, but you actually had your start on-stage. Returning audiences may remember you as Bob Cratchit from several years ago. What is it like being in a show and then switching to directing it?
A: It was actually great. I acted through almost 300 performances. That was awesome because I certainly had strong opinions about how the show ought to be. I was pretty familiar with how the show was over the years in its various incarnations. This is the oldest continuously running A Christmas Carol in the nation except for the Guthrie’s production, so it’s a pretty finely honed machine at this point. We did redesign the whole thing two years ago—new sets, new lights, new costumes—and that was huge, but the text has been a constant. So I sort of inherited the play I knew
Q: A Christmas Carol is one of the most enduring holiday stories we have. It was a hit when it was published in 1843 and has remained a staple of the holiday experience ever since. Is there a reason why you think this story is so beloved?
A: I think the main reason is that the story is really, really great. It’s a classic for a reason. And it’s really topical. [Scrooge] has succumbed to greed, avarice, and money and given up a lot of the most important things in life. But, through the benevolence of one his old friends who comes back as a ghost, he gets a chance at redemption. And, you know, who doesn’t want a chance at redemption?
Q: You’re right that Actors Theatre’s A Christmas Carol is the second-longest running in the country, so it’s definitely become a tradition here. What do you think of its role as a holiday classic?
A: One of the things I love the most about doing the show is seeing families show up. You can see that you have three generations, sometimes four present. It’s gotten to be a Christmas tradition – and it’s a really lovely tradition. Our world can be a little heavy of cynicism, but it’s impossible to be that way when a story like this is being told truthfully, warmly and correctly. The other thing I love about the show is seeing the children who act in the production grow up. When I played Bob Cratchit, the boy who played Tiny Tim went on to play Tom Cratchit and then Peter Cratchit. And his brothers also played all three. I’ve had these great moments with these kids in the show. It’s really a big ol’ fabulous family.
Catch Fifth Third Bank’s A Christmas Carol now through December 23. Reserve your tickets today.