The 2018 company of 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Adams VisCom

Deeper Dive: A closer look at ‘A Christmas Carol’

The 2018 company of 'A Christmas Carol.' Photo by Adams VisCom

The 2018 company of the DCPA Theatre Company’s ‘A Christmas Carol.’ Photo by Adams VisCom.

Note: In this daily series, we are taking a deeper dive into the nine titles recently announced on the DCPA Theatre Company’s 2020-21 season. Today: ‘A Christmas Carol.’

Return of seasonal favorite will re-open the newly named Marvin and Judi Wolf Theatre

A Christmas Carol. Jeff Roark as Marley. PHOTO BY Adams VisCom

Jeff Roark as Marley. Photo by Adams VisCom.

  • Written by: Charles Dickens. Adapted for the stage by Richard Hellesen, with music by David de Berry
  • Year written: 1987
  • Director: Melissa Rain Anderson
  • Dates: November 25-December 27 (Opens December 3)
  • Where: Wolf Theatre
  • Genre: Victorian classic set to music
  • The play at a glance: Denver’s beloved holiday tradition returns to christen the newly renovated Marvin and Judi Wolf Theatre, formerly the company’s flagship Stage Theatre. Based on Charles Dickens’ classic novel, this joyous and opulent musical adaptation traces money-hoarding skinflint Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption. A Christmas Carol illuminates the meaning of the holiday season in a way that has resonated for generations.
  • About the authors: English writer and social critic Charles Dickens created some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. Richard Hellesen is a California playwright whose works have been performed all over the world, but his musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol, written with composer David de Berry, is his most widely produced work.

Read more: A Christmas Carol still brings playwright to laughter, tears

  • Says Artistic Director Chris Coleman: “We are excited not only to bring our seasonal tradition back for our audiences, but this production will feature some new costumes, a couple of new cast members – and an entirely new scene written by Richard Hellesen. This company has put together a beautiful production that, frankly, is the best I’ve ever seen of this story. Clearly this version has resonated with Denver audiences for generations. This is a story about reclaiming a human heart — and I don’t think that ever gets old. But at its core, A Christmas Carol is a ghost story, and I think at the darkest time of year, when we’re so ready for the light to return, a ghost story makes really good sense. And this is a ghost story that’s really well told.”
  • About the new theatre: “The Wolf Theatre will be more intimate than the Stage Theatre, with slightly fewer seats,” said Coleman. “The acoustics will be greatly improved. Obviously the seating will be even more comfortable, and it will be much more accessible for people to move in and out of the theatre on stage and off.”
  • About that new scene: At Anderson’s request, Hellesen has written a brief new scene in the “Christmas Yet to Come” segment of the story, when Scrooge asks the spirit if there is any person in the town who feels any emotion caused by his death. He is shown a poor young couple deep in debt to Scrooge who express an embarrassed sense of elation over the news, and the temporary reprieve it has granted them. “In the play, because of Scrooge’s death, their debt will be transferred to someone will be far more lenient and compassionate with them,” Anderson said. “I found that to be a more effective way of showing Scrooge’s journey, by going deeper into the human experience. Not to mention, it is really apropos of what a lot of families are dealing with right now.”
  • Quote from the script: “‘Best of all, Scrooge knew he had the time before him to make amends — and he started that very day.’

Video: Stage Theatre will be renamed Marvin and Judi Wolf Theatre upon its reopening

  • Last word from the playwright: “One of the things I love so much about this Denver Center production is its humanity, because it’s extremely easy to make Scrooge one-dimensional, or a stereotype,” Hellesen said. “I think the harder challenge for the actor is to humanize him to the point where you are sitting in the audience saying to yourself, ‘You know what? I kind of … sort of … actually see where he is coming from. And that moves us a little closer in his direction.”

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

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Video bonus: Chris Coleman talks about the play

In the video above, Artistic Director Chris Coleman talks about ‘A Christmas Carol’

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Our ‘Deeper Dive’ series to date: