The cast of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ which consists of SRU students, faculty members and children from the Slippery Rock community, began dress rehearsals Tuesday, Nov. 29.
Professor of theatre and director of the show, Dr. David Skeele said the cast and crew have been working hard through the show process, and that every student, faculty member and child was fun and easy to work with.
“The kids are so wide-eyed and enthusiastic about this experience,” Skeele said. “It makes this process so much more magical.”
Skeele said he was excited to do this production again after putting it on the stage two years ago because it gave him a chance to work with a familiar script and set while still being able to have a new experience with new cast members and new directing choices. He was also excited because the theatre department is known for performing edgy and controversial shows, and this production is more of a family-friendly crowd-pleaser.
“It’s a big change for the seasoned members of the cast, but it’s a story everyone loves so dearly, including me,” Skeele said.
While much of the cast and crew are made up of students studying theatre, Skeele said the other students are very diverse in their interests. There are cast members studying education, dance and psychology.
Sophomore theatre and psychology double major Allison Valetta, who plays Fan and the Laundress, said she decided to begin studying theatre along with psychology after her first performance with SRU’s theatre department her freshman year.
“The theatre department is like a family, and this cast and crew is so talented,” Valetta said. “It’s a privilege to be working with them.”
Valetta also said she enjoys working with Skeele as a director because of his supportive nature and how he is always helping her grow as an actor. Every time she performs, Valetta said she gets better and better, and this production is no different.
“It’s such a classic tale, and a beautiful production,” Valetta said.
Junior theatre design and technology major and co-scenic designer Emma Cummings was a large part of the re-design of the original set from the first production, and therefore a large part of the behind-the-scenes for this production. ‘A Christmas Carol’ was not Cummings’ first production, as she also worked on ‘Dark North’ and ‘Hungry Jane’ last year, a joint production by the theatre department, written by Skeele that traveled to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Ireland.
“I was lucky enough that this had already been done, so I didn’t have to start from scratch,” Cummings said about working on the set for ‘A Christmas Carol. “I was given a bunch of smaller pieces to work with to create the set as it is now.”
Cummings said she felt the cast and crew, although she worked less with the cast and more behind the scenes, were all talented and fun to work with.
Portraying Jacob Marley will be senior dance major Darrin Mosley, who performed in ‘Brave New Plays’ last semester. Mosley said that he enjoyed the process of this production, and that everything was very fun and open, and that the cast and crew members have been loving and supportive through it all. He also enjoyed the academic diversity in the cast and crew, and that made for a very original and unique production.
Mosley mentioned that working with Skeele was also an enjoyable experience because Skeele is open to the actors’ interpretations and that, as long as it fits the general vision for the production as a whole, he allows the actors a lot of freedom to create and explore their characters.
“It’s been really interesting playing Jacob Marley,” Mosley said of his role. “He has a very scary message for Scrooge, but there’s so much love in it, and I enjoyed getting to explore that.”
Seasoned actor and senior theatre and dance double major Lawrence Karl will play Scrooge in the production, which, according to Karl, is one of his most challenging roles yet, due to the 50-year age difference between Karl and his character. Karl also said another challenge was getting into the negative mentality of Scrooge, and that it was very difficult to capture.
“Playing Scrooge has taught me that you shouldn’t fear change, and you shouldn’t be stuck in your own mindset all the time,” Karl said.
Karl, who was also part of the first production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ that took place two years ago, said he enjoyed performing the show again because it allowed for new experiences to be made. He also liked having the chance to work with children and community members because it’s not something everyone gets the chance to do.
Skeele said he thinks this show will help the audience get into the spirit that surrounds the holiday season: the spirit of giving and being together with their families.
“I hope they’re able to reconnect to the reason Christmas is so magical,” Skeele said.
‘A Christmas Carol’ will open Friday, Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m. in the University Union Multi-Purpose Room.