The comic character actor John Christopher Jones, well known to Broadway and Off-Broadway audiences, will play Ebenezer Scrooge in the McCarter Theatre's holiday production of Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. The Princeton, NJ, production begins on Dec. 9 and runs right up until Christmas Eve, Dec. 24. Michael Unger directs David Thompson's adaptation.
Jones' Broadway credits include the musical The Goodbye Girl and the dramas The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, London Assurance and A Month in the Country. Off-Broadway, he has been in Prin at Manhattan Theatre Club. At the McCarter, he has been seen in Three Sisters and Rough Crossing.
Also in the Carol cast are Robert Ari, Kim Brockington, Caren Browning, Angel Desai, Mark Niebuhr and Judy Reyes.
To spruce up the image of Carol this year, the McCarter commissioned Russian-born Princeton resident Gennady Spirin to create a new illustration for the production. Appropriately, Spirin was born near Moscow on Christmas Day, 1948. But Spirin's holiday credentials extend further still: he drew a series of Santas (American, English, German) for the Franklin Mint; and Saks Fifth Avenue hired him to fashion an image for its Nutcracker-themed Christmas decorations.
His award-winning non-yuletide work has adorned such children's books as The Fool and the Fish, Gulliver's Adventures in Lilliput, Kashtanka and The Sea King's Daughter. Posters of his McCarter drawing are available for purchase at the theatre. *
The 2000-01 season at the Princeton theatre has already featured Mary Zimmerman's The Odessey and Lily Tomlin's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe. Thirteen years after winning a Best Actress Tony Award for her solo star turn playing multiple characters in Jane Wagner's The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, Tomlin began touring the material again last year. The McCarter stop was followed by the current New York engagement.
Sorrow and Rejoicings, a new play by South African playwright Athol Fugard, will reach the McCarter in May 2001. Fugard's many plays include Valley Song and The Blood Knot. Fugard will direct the piece.
The second stage will see Marc Wolf's one-man show about gays in the military, Another American: Asking and Telling, which proved a hit for New York City's The New Group last fall.
The remaining 2000-2001 schedule is as follows:
• The School for Scandal, by Sheridan, directed by Mark Lamos, beginning Feb. 13, 2001 (until March 5).
• Arthur Kopit's BecauseHeCan, directed by Emily Mann, March 27 April 15.
• Sorrow and Rejoicings, a world premiere by Athol Fugard, directed by Fugard, beginning May 1-20.
Second Stage OnStage:
• Another American: Asking and Telling, written and performed by Marc Wolf, beginning Jan. 11-28.
—By Robert Simonson