As time for the opening curtain nears, a change has taken place in the cast of the Tar River Players’ production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” — Bryan Haislip is starring as Ebenezer Scrooge. As rehearsals got under way a few weeks ago, Dirk Lumbard had the role, but a scheduling conflict necessitated the change.
The play set in Victorian England tells the classic story of a miser with a “bah, humbug” attitude who is visited by three spirits on Christmas Eve and awakens with a change of heart.
“For me, the fascinating part of Scrooge is the transformation, the change that comes about,” Haislip said. “One of his climactic lines is, ‘I will never be the man I used to be.’”
Getting a glimpse into his future from the Ghost of Christmas Future prompts Scrooge’s transformation. Childhood and adolescent disappointments formed the character of the early Scrooge, a miserly, heartless man with no compassion for others.
“The background he came from apparently was unhappy and that was the motivation for him to become obsessed with wealth, as a sense of having made up for his earlier disappointments,”
Scooge’s capacity to change is at the heart of our humanity, yet remains untapped in some individuals, Haislip explained.
“There are some things about our personality and our ability to cope that we don’t discover. It takes some kind of experience to give us that impetus,” he said.
Haislip played the role of Scrooge’s former business partner Jacob Marley in last year’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” Jayson Duckett is in that role this year. Playing the role of Bob Cratchit, Scrooge’s overworked, unpaid employee, in this year’s show is Carnell Lamm. He described his character as “one of the ‘have nots,’ struggling, trying to make ends meet.”
“Back in the Victorian Age, you had the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots.’ We still have those ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ and there seems to be a gap in society,” Lamm said, commenting that Charles Dickens’ tale is another reminder that we need to be aware of the “working-class poor” and do what we can to try to narrow the gap in wealth.
“The idea is to be benevolent to those who have less than you,” said Patsy Miller, who plays the role of Mrs. Dilber, a “ruthless” bag lady who pickpockets from the living and even the dead and sells the items to make money.
One of the “have nots” who is happy despite his impoverished circumstances is Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, played by Dillon Rogers.
“Fred is the general stereotypical good fellow. He’s always in good spirits,” said Rogers. Fred always invites Scrooge over to his house for Christmas dinner and despite Scrooge’s unpleasant attitude, Fred is always kind to him. Fred’s crippled son Tiny Tim, played by 8-year-old Tristen Sano, famously epitomizes the Christmas spirit with his line, “God bless us, every one.”
Rounding out the cast of characters are Mary McCall Leland as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Dawn Whitehurst as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Tiffany Clark as the Ghost of Christmas Future. The show features a cast of 45.
This is the eighth season of productions by the Tar River Players, with Roberta Cashwell as the executive director, and the second year in a row for “A Christmas Carol” to be chosen as the holiday production..
The Players will present “A Christmas Carol” at 8 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 in Edgecombe Community College’s McIntyre Auditorium. The same schedule will be followed for the second weekend of performances, with evening productions on Friday and Saturday and a Sunday matinee.
The cost of tickets for the show is $10 for adults, and $5 for students, seniors and groups of 10 or more. Tickets are available at the door.