Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": James Carpenter

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Meet James Carpenter, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

Jim Carpenter
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
I’ve been in A Christmas Carol nine times, including understudying the Dennis Powers and Laird Williamson version A.C.T. produced from 1976 to 2005. I’ve played Scrooge during all nine runs.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
The street life.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Sharing of food. I drink a lot.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
My wife (received).

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
The final moments.

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol?
Um . . . Scrooge? Do I really have to explain? Mrs. Dilber and Mr. Fezziwig are tied for second place.

What do you want for the holidays this year?
A new car would be really nice . . .


Related Posts

Monday, December 17, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Evelyn Ongpin

Monday, December 12, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Raymond Castelán

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


Meet the Cast of “A Christmas Carol”: Sasha Steiner

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Meet Sasha Steiner, who plays Little Fan and Miner Child in A Christmas Carol.


Sasha Steiner
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
I've done this twice—last time I was Miner Child/Precious.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
Union Square, because of the lights and the ice skating rink.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
"Jingle Bell Rock."

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
1. Getting a Christmas tree and opening presents on Christmas Day! 2. Performing a Christmas song in front of my friends and family.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
Given to a kid: big Pillow Pet. Received from someone: a big fat sphere sheep with a tutu.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
The song we sing when the Ghost of Christmas Present appears, our new carol when the world comes out.

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol?
Young Scrooge! First, because he is my character's brother this year, and because of the actor and the character.

What do you want for the holidays this year?
A snake—and to bring spirit to kids.


Related Posts

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Omozé Idehenre

Monday, December 17, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Evelyn Ongpin

Monday, December 12, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Raymond Castelán

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


What Kids Can Do: A Christmas Carol Tale

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Letter from Audience Member Derek McCulloch to Artistic Director Carey Perloff

Holiday cards created by Pearl McCulloch and her classmates from Peralta Elementary School in Oakland as part of Cards from Kids Who Care.
Hi Ms. Perloff—

I really want you to know about something remarkable that happened as a result of my family seeing your most recent production of A Christmas Carol. Two weekends ago, my wife, Tara, and I took our daughter, Pearl, to a matinee of A Christmas Carol. It was her first grown-up theater experience and she enjoyed it very much. Thank you!

On the way out of the theater, Pearl saw a man with a cup out for spare change and she asked me if she could give him something. I handed her some quarters and she put them in the cup, getting a warm smile and a "Merry Christmas" in return. As we walked along Geary Street on our way to dinner, we past more panhandlers and, at one point, a man sleeping on the bare sidewalk without so much as a piece of cardboard to lie on. I could see Pearl taking this all in, and as we turned on Powell we started talking about it. She said it was really sad that a person should have to sleep out on the street like that and she wanted to do something to help. We told her that we give money to different services, but she said she wanted to do something herself, something a kid could do.

As we walked to the restaurant and then on through dinner we brainstormed about things a kid could do, and Pearl came up with the idea of making Christmas cards to sell and then give the money to the homeless. She was very excited by the idea, and over the course of a couple of days we refined it further: she would invite her friends from Peralta Elementary School in Oakland to make cards with her, and we would all ask friends and family to "sponsor" a card apiece. The cards would be given to a shelter to distribute to residents and the money would go to pay for services. I contacted the Berkeley Food and Housing Project, and they very enthusiastically agreed to be the shelter we'd work for.

We called the project "Cards from Kids Who Care."

This past Sunday afternoon our kitchen table was a card factory. For four hours, five eight-year-old girls labored with paper and glue and sequins and scissors and crayons and markers and seemingly several tons of glitter to make the best holiday cards anyone would ever want to receive. They made 42 cards for donations totaling more than $600. After they were done, orders continued to come in, and Pearl continues to make another couple of cards every night. Our total contributions are over $750 now, and it seems possible they'll top $800 by the time we make the delivery of cards and cash.

The eagerness with which these five girls took to the project was inspirational. We'll be proposing to the BFHP that we make this an annual tradition. We only had a week to plan things this year, but we hope that next year with more time we'll be able to make a larger effort and bring even more hope and help to the homeless.

We don't really know how much direct impact the play had on Pearl's thinking, but I couldn't help thinking that she'd really absorbed what Charles Dickens had to say on the subject of civic responsibility:

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Best regards and thank you for an inspirational day at the theater,

Derek McCulloch

Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Louis Kehoe

Meet Louis Kehoe, who plays Boy Scrooge and other roles in A Christmas Carol.


Louis Kehoe
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
This is my first year in the show.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
The big Christmas tree in Union Square.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
“Silent Night.”

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Christmas shopping and decorating.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
The bracelet I gave my sister with her hubby’s name on it.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
Scrooge’s return.

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol?
Tiny Tim, because he is a very powerful and deep character.

What do you want for the holidays this year?
A penny skateboard.


Related Posts

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Meet the Cast of “A Christmas Carol”: Omozé Idehenre

Monday, December 17, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Evelyn Ongpin

Monday, December 12, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Raymond Castelán

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


Santa’s Workshop: The Props of "A Christmas Carol"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Posted by Selena Chau, A.C.T. Web Development Fellow

Every season there are special upgrades and enhancements made to the familiar Christmas Carol props to keep the show fresh and new. While the actors rehearsed lines, staging, carols, and dances in the William Ball Rehearsal Studio (on the 8th floor of A.C.T.’s 30 Grant Avenue complex), the A.C.T. production staff worked their backstage magic in the A.C.T. Prop and Scene Shop, a 20,000-square-foot warehouse that has been located in the Mission district since A.C.T.’s move out west from Pittsburgh in 1967. Over the years, the shop has built and stored props and scenery from productions that have played at A.C.T.’s Geary Theater and other stages.

From the outside, the building is indistinguishable from neighboring warehouses on the block, but stepping inside reveals fantastic and unexpected tools, machinery, and props. As you enter, you see the replica of the Tosca Cafe bar sign (a keepsake from our 2010 dance-theater production The Tosca Project) hanging on the far wall by the design offices, still exuding some of its onstage sophistication. Overhead are rigs with three-ton limits, on hand to move set pieces and props to their storage places after productions. A drill bit set contains a range of pieces, from toothpick-sized bits to ones the size of your wrist.


For A Christmas Carol, props planning started during the onstage technical rehearsals for Elektra in late October. Director Domenique Lozano (who, this season, directed Carol for the seventh time) met with A.C.T. Property Supervisor Ryan L. Parham to request changes for this year’s production. To combat unpredictable onstage gravity and torque, which has played havoc on the production in previous years, the prop shop gave Marley’s soaring ghost two faces. The ethereal effect of the Ghost of Christmas Past’s entrance was improved from last year by draping LED lights and gauzy fabric on the wooden swing bench she rides in on. Miserly old Scrooge was also in need of more money (of course!), so the props department researched the appropriate currency design and made color prints. After the bills were cut, they were aged: crumpled, unfolded, sprayed with water, and ironed with low heat. When the paper fibers broke down, the bills were soft and manageable—like real money.

Almost half of the Christmas Carol props were updated this year with details that keep the show believable and authentic for A.C.T. audiences. Aging techniques are used to make props fit into the appropriate time period. However, if a prop gets too worn down, like Boy Scrooge’s Christmas gift from Dick Wilkins, a replacement is fabricated in house. Dick’s bound copy of The Arabian Nights would be in pristine condition when he gives it to his friend, so a new cover with custom cut leather corners was created, with the title added on the spine.

The props department upholds the longevity of the props, and this is especially important for the Ghost of Christmas Present’s magic branch, which gets shaken and swirled countless times every season. This year, durable plastic twigs replaced the missing wooden twigs: the plastic lasts longer and requires less maintenance.

During rehearsal, the crew becomes familiar enough with the props that they can see which ones might be in danger of damage over the course of the run. Prudently, extra props are built, and the stage props manager can easily swap a broken prop out between shows.

In A Christmas Carol, the props help tell the story, and they are then packed up and stored back in the warehouse, biding their time until next year’s encore.

Meet the Cast of “A Christmas Carol”: Nicholas Pelczar

Meet Nicholas Pelczar, who plays Bob Cratchit in A Christmas Carol.


Nicholas Pelczar
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
This is my third time in Carol. I’ve played Bob Cratchit once before and when I was an M.F.A. Program student here I played Fred.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
This is a little hokey, but I really love the puppies in the windows at Macy’s—is there anything cuter?

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
It’s gotta be “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”—I sang a choral version of it in a show once and it was such a pleasure to get to that part of the show every night.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
They really center around food—we celebrate our Polish heritage in my family by having pierogies and potato soup on Christmas Eve. Then we have an amazing brunch the next morning after opening presents. Finally, for Christmas Day dinner we have a fairly traditional English pot roast to celebrate our family’s other heritage.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
I once got a dancing kung-fu hamster doll. It’s pretty spectacular.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
I love watching when Scrooge encounters the Charitables on the street on Christmas Day—they are so surprised!

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol?
I love Mrs. Dilber—she’s hilarious!

What do you want for the holidays this year?
I’d be happy with anything this year.


Related Posts

Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Omozé Idehenre

Monday, December 17, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Evelyn Ongpin

Monday, December 12, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Raymond Castelán

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


Meet the Cast of “A Christmas Carol”: Omozé Idehenre

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Meet Omozé Idehenre, who plays Ghost of Christmas Present in A Christmas Carol.


Omozé Idehenre
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
Three times: Ghost of Christmas Present/Pole Bearer/Fruit Seller/Charitables.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
The gargantuan Christmas tree in Union Square.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
The original one Dickens conceived from his wonderful mind and put to the page for all the world to share.

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
I don't really have any holiday traditions . . . I just enjoy the communal aspect of it all. The coming together. But that can be done any day.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
Given: myself. Received: someone else being themselves with me.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
It’s not really a moment. It’s the fact that Jacob Marley comes all the way from the depths to help his friend escape the same fate. He did this after death! Now that's a great friend!!!

What do you want for the holidays this year?
It’s definitely not a new car . . . To be honest it would be more diversity and truth in all mediums of acting (theater, TV, and film) on a regular basis. Not just one monolithic play per season, show a decade, or film once a year. Diversity is in the world on a daily basis and should be reflected in every play, TV show, and film we see as well as in any new medium and form of expression.


Related Posts

Monday, December 17, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Evelyn Ongpin

Monday, December 12, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Raymond Castelán

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Evelyn Ongpin

Monday, December 17, 2012

Meet Evelyn Ongpin, who plays a Child of Alan and Ruth/Precious Wilkins in A Christmas Carol.


Evelyn Ongpin
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
I played a Child of Alan and Ruth and the Sled Girl in last season's Carol. That was my first time.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
“Jingle Bells”

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
I like decorating.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
A really pretty dress.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
I don’t have one. I just like having fun during all of it!

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol? Why?
Scrooge.

What do you want for the holidays this year?
Shoes.


Related Posts

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Raymond Castelán

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Meet Raymond Castelán, who plays Young Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.


Raymond Castelán
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
This is my first time in A Christmas Carol and my first time on The Geary stage.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
Ice skating in Union Square with the tree and Macy’s windows all lit up.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
“Oh Holy Night”

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
On Christmas Eve everyone goes over to my parents’ house and we make tamales together. It’s an all-day process that begins with breakfast and Christmas carols on the radio all day and ends with opening presents at midnight.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
It’s become a tradition for my folks to get me and my siblings flannel p.j.’s for Christmas Eve each year—so comfy after a long day in those crisp Central Valley winters.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
I like watching the Boy Scrooge sequence. It is really nice to be reminded where Scrooge comes from and to see him with his little sister.

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol? Why?
Oh, there are so many great characters in this story but I am really fond of Sharon Lockwood’s Mrs. Dilber and Jarion Monroe’s Mr. Fezziwig.

What do you want for the holidays this year?
I haven’t been home for about six months so I’m just looking forward to making it home by December 25 and having some of my mother’s cooking.


Related Posts

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Monday, December 10, 2012

Meet Ken Ruta, who plays Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol.


Ken Ruta
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
I played Scrooge in A.C.T.’s original Dennis Powers and Laird Williamson production (1976–2005) for three years. I played Marley in the current Carey Perloff/Paul Walsh adaptation for three years. I also played the Narrator for ten years in Center REPertory Theatre’s production of Carol.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
How people still strive for generosity and goodness of spirit and heart.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
“Stille Nacht” (“Silent Night”).

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
The Christmas tree.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
There are too many to remember.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
The dance of Mrs. Dilber and Ebenezer Scrooge.

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol? Why?
The boy with the turkey?

What do you want for the holidays this year?
Peace in the Middle East and unselfishness. Wisdom in the U.S. Congress.


Related Posts

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Meet Seth Weinfield, who plays the Child of Alan and Ruth/Rory Wilkins in A Christmas Carol.


Seth Weinfield
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
This is my first time.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
The Christmas lights.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
"Jingle Bells"

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Opening presents, singing Hanukkah songs.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
My mom really liked a pair of earrings I gave her.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
I really like the fight scene with Ignorance and Want.

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol? Why?
That probably would be Tiny Tim, because he thinks good thoughts.

What do you want for the holidays this year?
I’d really like a spy kit.


Related Posts

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Thursday, December 6, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele


Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Carmen Steele

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Meet Carmen Steele, who plays Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol.


Carmen Steele
A Christmas Carol continues through December 24.
Learn more about the production and order tickets.
How many times have you been in A Christmas Carol?
This is my first time.

What's your favorite thing about San Francisco during the holidays?
All of the Christmas trees.

What is your favorite Christmas carol?
"Let it Snow."

What are your favorite holiday traditions?
Dressing up as Santa or a helper.

What is the best gift you've ever given or received?
My favorite bathrobe.

What is your favorite moment in A Christmas Carol?
When it snows and I say "God bless us everyone!"

Who is your favorite character in A Christmas Carol? Why?
Scrooge, because he is so funny.

What do you want for the holidays this year?
A Kindle Fire.


Related Posts

Monday, December 10, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Ken Ruta

Saturday, December 8, 2012
Meet the Cast of "A Christmas Carol": Seth Weinfield

Creating the Ghost of Christmas Present

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The original costume sketch for
the Ghost of Christmas Present
This interview is adapted from the Christmas Carol edition of Words on Plays, A.C.T.’s behind-the-scenes theater guide. Purchase a copy to read the complete interview and learn more about Charles Dickens and the magical world of the show.

When costume designer Beaver Bauer undertook A.C.T.’s A Christmas Carol in 2005, she knew it would be a substantial endeavor. “I wouldn’t have considered doing a show this complex at another theater,” she confesses, “in part because A.C.T. is a unique place where you know you can make a bold creative choice in a rendering and then have a ghost of chance that what you are envisioning can actually be achieved. There is enough depth [of talent and experience] in the costume shop to paint fabric and create a hat from scratch and really take something all the way from the ground up—from just fabric.”

Jane Boggess (former A.C.T. accessories artisan) applies red paint to the Ghost of Christmas Present costume
Nowhere was this experience put to better use than in creating the costume for the Ghost of Christmas Present, played this year by A.C.T. core acting company member Omozé Idehenre. “I was interested in the power of the color green as a life force, as a metaphor for the present tense—especially because it seems like Scrooge is so disconnected from his present life and from his environment that his is walking in almost a parallel universe. I thought it would be great, in contrast, to have something really, really vital. In the book, Christmas present is described as someone, either a man or a woman, wearing a green robe, and it brought to mind for me something more organic and more, not necessarily Druidic, but something with a powerful force of life and nature running through it. . . . We knew we wanted green velvet, with red veins running through it, and we hoped we could buy that fabric.”

Unfortunately, they were disappointed. Bauer recalls: “We went to New York and Los Angeles just to shop for exactly what we needed, and we [went] to every store here [in San Francisco]”—but to no avail. “We couldn’t find it!” says former costume shop assistant manager Joan Raymond. “It might be in Milan, but it was definitely not in New York or Los Angeles.”

Scrooge (James Carpenter) is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Present (Omozé Idehenre). Photo by Kevin Berne.
Still, Bauer was undeterred. “We decided to buy white fabric and dye it ourselves. . . . We started creating samples, because you never know how the fabric is going to behave with the dye, to figure out which [dye] is most effective.” Eventually, the 50 yards of velvet for the Ghost of Christmas Present’s costume would undergo an elaborate six-step coloring process that took the staff of the costume shop over eight weeks, making it the most labor-intensive costume in the production. After it was dyed green, caustic chemicals were used to burn vine-like designs in the fabric. Gold paint was applied, then red; next, the fabric was rolled in paper and steamed to set the dye. Finally, it was painted green, rinsed, and dried. Once the velvet was finished, it was cut and sewn into a robe that was fitted to the actor.

“Someone will look at it and think, ‘Oh, they probably bought that at Britex,” Bauer says. “But it takes [more than 100] hours to make the fabric—and that’s before it’s sewn, before the collar is made, before the cuffs are made, before the drape with the feathers and the train and the wig. . . . It’s an unbelievably detailed and precise process.”
 
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