The 33rd annual production of the adaptation of the Dickens classic began previews Nov. 26 and continues to Dec. 23 in the 637-seat Pamela Brown Auditorium.
Barbara Field adapted the Dickens novella. Director Daniels, Actors' associate artistic director, has added 16 songs to this year's production making it "a celebration with music." Actors who are also musicians will perform the music live.
"A cherished part of the yuletide season in Kentuckiana since 1976, A Christmas Carol offers the warmth and goodwill of Charles Dickens' timeless tale of the true meaning of Christmas with familiar characters and spellbinding stage magic," according to ATL.
How did this year's idea to add more music come about? Director Daniels told Playbill.com, "Last year my wife asked if we could go see some professional carolers sing, and since I was in the midst of directing The Santaland Diaries and Christmas Carol, I just couldn't take anymore Christmas, so I passed. But hen I realized, that's one of the things that people want out of their holiday season: A real opportunity to hear some beautiful voices singing — while fake snow falls upon them."
What songs are included? Daniels explained, "It's a healthy mix of more familiar ones like 'The First Noel,' and some older ones like 'Lirum, Lirum'. I think the most impressive thing about the music is that we're bringing in several actors that play instruments — so all the parties are filled with live music and the rest of the show is underscored. Toss in a harp into the 'Dead Tim' scene and there's not a dry eye in the house."
Do the songs provide atmosphere and period, or do some of them actually serve to move the plot?
Daniels said, "'Lirum, Lirum' is a great example, we use that as Christmas Past's theme song — every time she travels we hear a chunk of it, and as her journey becomes more intense for Scrooge, so does the song."
The cast of 30, playing more than 50 characters, includes longtime favorites of the Louisville stage: William McNulty (Scrooge), Fred Major (Schoolmaster/Old Joe) and Ann Hodapp (Mrs. Grigsby). The three actors combined represent nearly 50 years of Actors Theatre A Christmas Carol experience.
The troupe also includes J. Bernard Calloway as Bob Cratchit, Trent Blanton as Fred/Mr. Fezziwig, Nick Cordileone as Marley/Young Marley/Undertaker, David Keeton as Grasper/Townsperson, Daphne Gaines as Ghost of Christmas Past/Mrs. Blakelym, Isaac J. Kresse as Boy Scrooge/Simon/Tom Cratchit, Matthew Baldiga as Young Ebenezer/Snarkers, Stephanie Weeks as Belle/Mrs. Fred, Jacob Wilhelmi as Fezziwig Guest/Topper, Catherine Bandeko as Fan/Martha Cratchit, Navida Stein as Mrs. Fezziwig/Mrs. Dilber, Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako as Marigold Fezziwig/Dorothea, Katharine Moeller as Petunia Fezziwig/Sophia, Alexandra Chand as Marjoram Fezziwig/Belinda Cratchit/Want, Chris Moore as Ghost of Christmas Future/Fezziwig Guest, David Ryan Smith as Ghost of Christmas Present/Forrest, Heidi Schreck as Mrs. Cratchit, Hero Isabella Cordileone as Tiny Tim/Ignorance/Basil Fezziwig, Hunter Mayfield as Peter Cratchit/Billy, Steven Rausch as Dick Wilkins/Cecil, plus a Victorian community played by David Michael Brown, Eric Eteuati, Ami Jhaveri, Clare Rose Kresse and Allison Moy.
The creative team includes scenic designer Paul Owen, costume designer Lorraine Venberg, lighting designer Deb Sullivan, sound designer Matt Callahan and properties designers Doc Manning and Mark Walston.
Performances are Tuesday through Sunday with family-friendly curtain times at 7 PM, and 2 PM matinees on Saturday and Sunday.
Tickets can be purchased by calling the Actors Theatre box office at (502) 584-1205 or online at ActorsTheatre.org. Discount rates for groups of ten or more are available by calling (502) 585-1210.