Three states, three different versions of A CHRISTMAS CAROL, five weeks time. Yup, you guessed it – I’ve been ACC hopping around the US. (note: from this point on A CHRISTMAS CAROL will be referred to as ACC to prevent my getting carpal tunnel from having to type it so frequently).
We all know the story of Scrooge and his ‘bah humbug’ attitude (and if you don’t, what rock have you been living under?), but, believe it or not, there are so many ways one can tell this tale – it’s astonishing! Each version I’ve seen this season has offered me a completely different take on Dickens’ classic and I’ve walked away after the performances thinking simply “Wow, was that interesting!” I think the best way to describe these three productions is with this incredibly vague, yet oddly detailed ACC breakdown:
– Only two of the three productions was actually titled ACC.
– The theaters each seat approximately 1100, 560 and 99 people. One is in the midwest, two out east.
– One uses the same adaptation, director and production each season and is very traditional; one has a different director every year – using the same adaptation (but a different one than the aforementioned version) – and creates a new production each season; the third one alternates holiday programming frequently and has used this unique ACC since last season.
– Two had casts between 25-45 actors while the other had but three.
– In one, Scrooge was played by a woman.
– Two of them I saw for the first time at theaters I’d previously been to.
A few weeks ago, I got in a semi-alcohol induced, mildly animated/heated discussion with someone about traditional ACC’s versus those that go against the grain. Sadly, we both got distracted (by the making of cheese curds, of all things) and the conversation was left unfinished. But, we did get far enough to deduce that I seem to lean toward ACC’s that are more liberal, while he prefers the traditional year after year.
I’m all for tradition and thrive on doing “traditional” things whenever I return to Milwaukee. But after seeing so many ACC’s in the last year alone, I’ve noticed that I’m starting to gravitate toward unique ACC’s just to see something different from what I already know and to, dare I say, challenge myself to see a new telling of Scrooge’s miserly ways. All the ACC’s this year were essentially new to me anyway because of many factors, so we’ll just have to see what next year brings…
After writing all this, I’m reminded of something Scrooge says to his nephew, Fred, in one of the first scenes of ACC, “Keep Christmas in your own way, and I’ll keep it in mine.” Precisely.