A Good Old Coat: Actor Cindy Goldfield on Returning to A Christmas Carol

By Elspeth Sweatman and Annie Sears

A Christmas Carol is a classic story, one many of us know well. But actor Cindy Goldfield may know it best. She's played or understudied all the adult female roles in A.C.T.’s adaptations—from Mrs. Fezziwig to Mrs. Cratchit to the Ghost of Christmas Present. She most often plays Charitable #1, a role she loves because of its dynamic story arc. As Goldfield prepared to return to this cherished character, she shared about how the often-told story retains its sense of newness.

Cindy Goldfield as Charitable #1, James Carpenter as Scrooge, and Howard Swain as Charitable #2 in A.C.T.'s 2017 production of A Christmas Carol. Photo by Kevin Berne.

How does it feel to return to the same role year after year?
It feels like a good old coat. It’s the same role, but it's magical how different it feels year to year. The sets, text, costumes, lighting, sound, people, and director may be close to exactly the same, but somehow it always feels fresh. Partly, it’s because this story is as relevant today as it was 150 years ago. The world is as polarized and troubled as it was in Dickens’s time. It also feels fresh because Domenique [Lozano], our director, comes into the first read-through with a fresh take on what resonates with her each particular year. We come into that room in a festive mood—greeting our friends, meeting the new Young Conservatory and M.F.A. students, and settling in with our usual partners. Then we open up and listen to Domenique share her vision. That first read-through is hilarious and heartrending and inspiring. It sets us up to start the rehearsal process in alignment, heartily onboard with Domenique’s vision.

Do you discover new aspects of your character?
Yes. Howard Swain and I have been paired up as the Charitables for many years, but our dynamic is always a little different. Some years, it feels like I am his boss, and sometimes it feels like he’s mine. Sometimes, it feels like we are new to the job, and sometimes it feels like we do this all the time, but we have never encountered a person as stingy, mean, and horrible as Scrooge. It’s fun to see what pops up each year, as we go into the room with little expectation about how we want to change things.

What is your favorite part of A Christmas Carol?
I love getting to spend time with the inimitable Ken Ruta, who plays Jacob Marley. He is my favorite part of Christmas, and I feel supremely lucky to share a stage (and saucy backstage banter) with him.

Make A Christmas Carol a part of your holiday tradition. Get your tickets and join us December 6–29 in The Geary Theater.

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