The finals days to showtime are quickly approaching for the cast of Scrooge as actors young and old were spotted putting finishing touches on dress rehearsals this week.
The musical rendition, based on the 1970 musical film, which is an interpretation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, will open at the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre on Thursday, Nov. 21 and run to Nov. 24.
The performance is being presented by the community theatre troupe Parcel of Rogues.
The cast of 32, which is made up of 12 children and 20 adults, have been practicing for six weeks about four nights a week. As opening night approaches, practice time has intensified to every night, said Lynn Elkin, director and stage manager.
“It has been a tight, tight schedule,” said Elkin of the rehearsal time the cast has had.
“With this big of a cast and with this many young people who haven’t been involved in a play before” getting as much practice time in over the next week will be key.
Phoenix Smith is a choreographer of the Thank You Very Much scene and Melanie Hepelle is the musical director. The tune was an academy award nominee for Best Original Score in 1970.
Elkin explained that she has long been wanting to present the music of Scrooge due to its amazing harmonies and multiple-part singing sections.
“I hope the audience will really enjoy the different sounds of Christmas,” said Elkin.
Eli Purchase, who is playing the part of Ebeneezer Scrooge, said this is the first time that he has been in a lead role. He said getting prepared for opening night has been a lot of work but a lot of fun despite the small window of time for preparation.
“In these fall shows we do a condensed schedule and we are pulling it together in six weeks,” he said. “It is a lot of hard work and everybody has so much work to memorize all the lines and at all the rehearsals. But I think it is really coming together.”
While Purchase has been in a number of spring musicals and stage performances in the past, he said playing this role is challenging as he only leaves the stage twice during the whole show. He said the support structure from the crew and help from enthusiastic co-actors have made the process much easier and enjoyable.
Elkin said one of the big challenges for cast members is in some cases moving back and forth from different types of English accents – sometimes within the same sentence.
“It is definitely challenging when you want to do a piece in the period that it was originally set,” said Purchase. “Actors have to do low-brow cockney and then a more posh high-brow accent within the same sentence. It has been a challenge to find the character and to find what that accent is.”
Wessam Bou-saleh, who is playing Tom Jenkins, a happy-go-lucky character who gets the town riled up after Scrooge dies, also serves as one of the narrators for the play. He said the play seems to finally be coming together and “clicking” after weeks of rehearsals.
“Getting the accent right was my biggest fear and not sounding like an idiot on stage,” he said. “The movie was a good reference material. A lot of the cast members started meeting together on the side and correcting each other to say ‘hey, maybe this sentence would sound better this way.'”