Spiked with songs by the composer of Dreamgirls, the adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" was created by playwright James Magruder (Broadway's Triumph of Love), "who transfers the classic tale to DC after the attack on Pearl Harbor with Christmas Day approaching," according to Arena. Magruder drew on his family's experiences living in DC during the Depression and World War II era.
Under the musical direction of George Fulginiti Shakar (Arena's Cabaret), the premiere includes original songs by Broadway composer Henry Krieger (Dreamgirls) and lyricist Susan Birkenhead (Jelly's Last Jam).
Arena artistic director Molly Smith directs a cast that includes local favorites James Gale (in the Scrooge-inspired role), Lawrence Redmond and Nancy Robinette (in the Cratchit roles).
Choreography is by Parker Esse (Arena's Damn Yankees). "Arena Stage is a theatre that focuses on American plays and American voices," stated Smith. "So, using the frame of Dickens' work and setting it in our nation's capital is dramatically exciting. Jim has masterfully recreated the well-known tale and takes us into delightful and unexpected new territory to learn the importance of shared sacrifice for a just cause."
According to Arena notes, "In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, Elijah Strube doesn't care about the approaching holiday or battling tyranny; he only wants to make money and revisit his connections as a war profiteer. His loyal employee Henry Schroen fights to keep his family's holiday spirits alive in spite of shortages, a housing crunch and a son who wants to enlist despite his mother's wishes. On Christmas Eve, three local spirits visit the solitary miser Strube in his G Street, NW office and take him on an incredible journey through the city and across time. Featuring everything from a high-energy USO dance to White House fireside chats, Magruder's adaptation breathes new life into a beloved family story."
Christmas Carol 1941 runs to Dec. 30.
Christmas Carol 1941 is Magruder's first production with Arena Stage. His translations include Marivaux's The Triumph of Love (Center Stage, Classic Stage Company); the book for its musical version, Triumph of Love (Broadway and beyond); Labiche's Eating Crow (Dallas Main Street Theatre); Lesage's Turcaret (D.C.'s Catalyst Theatre); Molière's The Imaginary Invalid (Yale Repertory Theatre); Bougie Man, an adaptation of Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme for South Coast Rep; The Miser for Center Stage; and Gozzi's The Love of Three Oranges for La Jolla Playhouse. His Three French Comedies (Yale University Press) was named an "Outstanding Literary Translation" by the American Literary Translators Association.
The cast includes Christopher Bloch, Clinton Brandhagen, Mollie Clement, Daniel Eichner, Tim Getman, Tara Giordano, C.J. Harrison-Davies, Gia Mora, Connan Morrissey, Hugh Nees, Clay Steakley and Bayla Whitten.
The Christmas Carol 1941 creative team includes William Schmuck (set designer); Vicki R. Davis (costume designer); John (Jock) Munro (lighting designer); Garth Hemphill (orchestrator/sound designer); Adam Larsen (projection designer); Mark Bly (senior dramaturg); stage manager Susan R. White; assistant stage manager Brady Ellen Poole; and dialect coach Anita Maynard-Losh.
For more information visit www.arenastage.org.