Floor plans for the new set, designed
by associate artist Todd Edward Ivins.
Milwaukee audiences are invited to join Ebenezer
Scrooge on his ghoulish journey to redemption when the Milwaukee
Repertory Theater presents its annual production of Charles Dickens’
classic cautionary tale, “A Christmas Carol” — with a bit of a
twist. While the story still harkens to Victorian London, and
includes all of the endearing (and foreboding) characters people
have grown to love, The Rep has created an enchanting, immersive
storytelling experience that is sure to leave audiences on the edge
of their seats.
Despite the new changes, Artistic Director Mark
Clements says the latest adaptation, costumes and set uphold the
nostalgia that has cemented “A Christmas Carol” into families’ rota
of holiday tradition for generations.
“The story never gets old,” Clements says.
“Regardless of religious faith, it reminds people to be charitable
all year long. It’s such an inspirational story.”
While the story’s somber message never wanes,
Clements has incorporated the British panto style of theater, where
songs, dances, jokes, exaggerated characters and audience
participation make it an exciting, family-friendly affair. After
all, “it is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at
Christmas,” he says.
Here Clements shares what to expect in The Rep’s
upcoming production of “A Christmas Carol,” which runs Nov. 29
through Christmas Eve.
New costume renderings by costume designer
Alexander B. Tecoma
Clements wrote this year’s adaptation, only the
fourth since the production first launched more than 40 years ago,
and the last of which was written in 1998. The artistic director
says he refocused on the play’s “ghost aspect.” “We’re trying to
tell the story of how Scrooge became who he was before his
redemption,” explains Clements. “It’s a very dramatic, traditional
While many of the costumes in “A Christmas Carol”
received tweaks, the story’s three ghost characters have been
completely reimagined. Designed by Milwaukee’s own Alexander B.
Tecoma, the ghosts combine whimsical threads, special lighting and
even puppetry to bring the characters to life (even in their death).
A Turntable Set
This year’s set is one of The Rep’s most
technologically advanced builds to date. The set features an
innovative turntable, which easily transports the actors, and the
audience, from the heart of Old London to inside the homes of Bob
Cratchit and Scrooge. “It allows us great fluidity and narrative to
go to multiple locations effortlessly,” Clements adds. The set was
designed by Todd Edward Ivins and took nearly two years to design.
A Fresh-faced Scrooge
The Rep introduces local actor Jonathan Wainwright as
the 12th Ebenezer Scrooge in the theater’s history. Wainwright
played Bob Cratchit for many years, and understudied as Scrooge in
the 2015 season. Clements says Wainwright’s physicality and stellar
acting made him an easy choice.
To add to the
immersive play experience, The Rep has drawn on technology from the
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to make it snow on the audience
during the performance.