Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" is a play about learning life's lessons before it's too late. And even the youngest actors in TheatreSquared's holiday production have lots of wisdom to share on that topic.
"Cherish moments with your loved ones, and always be helpful and kind to others."
"Remember to always be generous and helpful to those who may be struggling in any way."
"Spending time with the ones you love is so important."
"If you can make anyone's life better, you should do it."
"Money isn't the greatest thing."
"Change seems to be the only constant in life, so watching Scrooge change, reminds us that no one (even ourselves) is irredeemable," adds Yetunde Felix-Ukwu, who plays the librarian narrating the adaptation of the classic by T2 founders Bob Ford and Amy Herzberg.
"I think it's so valuable to look back without getting stuck, and taking those lessons to move forward positively," agrees Stephanie Shum, the Ghost of Christmas Past.
"I think its universal themes of love, togetherness and human connection are always a draw to this beloved story," says director Dexter Singleton. "If we had the chance to look back on all the mistakes of our life and see into the future and how they affected us, would we choose to change them or keep them the same? Everyone has wished they could change a choice or mistake for the better, so with that, we all can see a bit of Scrooge in each of ourselves."
The story is the same one that's been beloved since 1843 , but in this telling, the tale begins in a library on Christmas Eve, just after the original release of "A Christmas Carol."
"I portray an awkward anti-social librarian who decides to connect with a young girl over a ghost story," explains Felix-Ukwu.
"My character, the Girl, is (at first) very tough," adds Emme Fletcher. "When she first meets the librarian, she's very hard and cold to her – but underneath that act, she's very sad. Kind of like Scrooge, if you think about it!"
Together, the two go on a magical journey through the story of Scrooge and Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come with an ensemble of actors each playing multiple characters.
"Most actors in the cast play many roles, and it can be challenging to change hats -- sometimes quite literally," says Shum. "However, bouncing in and out of various characters is so much fun and gives such a unique breath of energy and magic to the show!
"Our director, Dexter Singleton, has found so many fun and exciting ways to extend the magic of the show beyond the stage and into the audience," she adds. "I think theatergoers from 8 to 108 will delight in being so close to these beloved characters."
"I'm new to the production as the director," says Singleton. "It's mainly a new cast of actors who haven't done this production before, and the returning actors have been open and receptive to bringing their own fresh ideas to the story as well. As those who've seen it before know, Bob and Amy's script is a different take on the classic story. This year, they've changed a few characters from the show that should immediately connect with audience members. I've tried to infuse my own directing style a bit with some new comedic moments, a new take on a few scenes and characters.
"I'm not giving away the secrets because I want everyone to be surprised in the moment! It is a very fun show and the perfect holiday night out for the whole family."
Returning as Scrooge, James Taylor Odom sums up his journey.
Scrooge is, he says, "infamously cold, bitter, unfeeling and cruel. However, as we know from the end of the story, he is also capable of great joy, warmth, generosity and passion. At an immediate glance, I absolutely identify first with all of the parts of Scrooge that we come to know and love after he's changed. However, the more times I do this show, the more I discover parts of him in the beginning that I can, if not identify with, at least understand to be human. What is more human than self preservation? Underneath all the many grotesque layers of Scrooge, there is a hidden well of deep feeling and vulnerability. We're left once again with the enduring question: Can people truly change after a lifetime of habit?"
Beatrice McCue, who plays Tiny Tim, believes Scrooge proves they can.
"He learns that he's not the most important person in the world and that nobody is perfect, and he learns to be kind."
'A Christmas Carol'
WHEN -- 7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 1 p.m. Saturday & Sunday, through Dec. 24, with additional shows on Dec. 17 & 22
WHERE -- TheatreSquared in Fayetteville
COST -- $20-$71
INFO -- 777-7477 or theatre2.org