The story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been a classic since its publication in the past. It remains popular in the present and will most likely stay associated with the holiday season for long into the future.
Much like the ghosts that visit the miser on Christmas Eve.
“Scrooge, The Musical” is a musical retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic story, “A Christmas Carol.”
State College Community Theatre actors will perform the musical multiple times this weekend at The State Theatre, starting at 7:30 tonight, followed by two performances –– one at 2 p.m. and another at 7:30 p.m. Saturday and lastly one at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Executive Director of the State Theatre Richard Biever directed the musical. Biever first picked the musical for his venue because he felt it would be a good choice and then was signed on to direct, he said. But, he said it was a “thrill” to direct the show and said it has been a lot of fun.
Biever said watching the pieces of the musical come together has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the process, despite the obstacle of making sure everyone’s schedules worked together. Auditions for the production were held in October, and they have rehearsed six days a week since before Thanksgiving. He said the story is still pertinent to the way the world is today.
“It’s funny how relevant it is,” he said. “There’s a child with a pre-existing condition and no healthcare, a community who wants to help him but can’t because they’re too poor and a lawyer who is more than wealthy enough to help but doesn’t. There are a lot of parallels to the current state of things.”
He said it takes an “awakening or enlightenment” for a person such as Scrooge to see the path they are on and if it is a good one.
“It’s not through a reason or through argument that the change happens, it’s through going back through that person’s life before they were this hardened person and what would happen if they don’t change,” he said.
This production marks the first time in a while that the story has been told on the stage in State College, Biever said. He said to see it live on stage with talented community members is a special experience, and it will be fun to present a production with songs audience members may not know, although they do know the story.
“I don’t know that there’s a person who doesn’t know the story and doesn’t have a positive feeling about the story,” he said.
Tom McClary is playing the role of Scrooge himself and thought it would be interesting to try his own take on such a famous character.
He said the most important tool he could use was imagination and to try to convey how someone such as Scrooge turned out the way he did.
“The whole point of the story is he’s not evil,” he said. “He’s capable of being better, of being redeemed.”
He said showing the audience how Scrooge became who he is was a “very exciting and challenging thing to do.” He said Scrooge chose to cut himself off in the world and then gets a chance to redeem himself.
“I try to imagine what would my reaction be like if all of a sudden I woke up one night and saw what appeared to be a ghost and convey that in a 60-year-old, grouchy miser,” he said.
McClary said he had to find a way to balance the meanness present in Scrooge’s character but not go so overboard that it would not be plausible for the character to change.
There are multiple themes present in the musical, he said. One of those themes is redemption in someone who seems to be “set in his way” and turn around to become a better person. The other theme the show emphasizes is the importance of love and family.
He said playing the villain of the show was something he enjoyed, and the story itself is one of his favorites.
“It is fun playing somebody who’s cranky. You can really kind of cut loose and be big and broad and a little bit wacky,” he said. “I very much enjoyed taking the turn and becoming this much more benevolent, good kind of person.”
Susan Russell , assistant professor of theatre, said America is a “singing culture” that enjoys music more than anything.
“When you take a classic like ‘A Christmas Carol,’ it lasts because you love to hear people singing,” she said. “Something as important as this great 20th century classic, when put to music, remains popular due to that very reason.”
She said “Scrooge” is a story of redemption, and it is never too late to wake up to humanity and said it is a perfect time to see a story like it given the difficult times at Penn State. She said it portrays the message of love and friendship and taking care of one another.
“It’s a global story that brings us very close together as individuals. It’s a great show for our present situation,” she said.
McClary said it’s a great show to see in time for the holidays and is perfect for those who like to think when they come to the theater.
“It’s a good time with a little bit of philosophy thrown in,” he said. “I can’t think of many people who wouldn’t enjoy this show.”
Tickets are $20 and $16 for seniors and students.