Ford Theatre's annual production of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" reverberates in spirited music and the power of spirits. Once again, actor Edward Gero stars as the miserly Scrooge beset by the ghosts who haunt him until he sees the error of his ways.
Actors Felicia Curry and Anne Stone, who have portrayed the ghosts each year, first appear as vendors greeting the audience.
Curry, a regular with Capitol Steps, is the Ghost of Christmas Past. In her opening scene as a vendor of dolls, she cautions customers that the dolls can break, just as many relics of the past are fragile. Once this clue is presented, she disappears offstage to doff her period dress and become the Ghost of Christmas Past. Beneath her dark leotard is a harness that allows two fly boys to hoist her 15 feet above the audience and stage.
"Flying above the audience for 20 minutes is magical," she said. "Looking down on Scrooge, I can see his reactions and watch him as he goes through his transformation. All the while, I'm carrying the Ghost of Christmas Future on my shoulder. It is a puppet that sits like a back pack. The helmet on my head manipulates its movement. It's exciting to be part of this production because it captures the audience and is not trying to go over the top."
|'A Christmas Carol'|
|Where: Ford's Theatre, 511 10th St NW|
|When: Through Dec. 30; 7:30 p.m. Tues. through Sun., 2. p.m. Sat. & Sun.|
|Info: $22 to $89; 800-982-2787; fords.org.|
Stone makes her entry as a vendor whose opulent food cart is filled with fruit, nuts, candy and cider that she offers Scrooge. She is wearing a period costume, but soon leaves the stage to don her costume as Christmas Present. Twenty minutes later, she emerges in a gown so heavy it takes two people to dress her.
"It's the most beautiful, magical costume in the world," she said. "There is glitter everywhere. At my grand entrance, I come in like Macy's Parade in my cart bringing joy to the world. This production is true to the story about salvation. It's very Dickensian and not dumbed down for kids, but there are some very scary parts. When we greet the audience at the opening, we emphasize that we are actors playing parts to let the children know that they should not be afraid of us or anything that happens.
"Over the years, Edward Gero plumbs a little deeper into his role. It's incredibly moving when he reclaims his life. We've all become invested in making this play true to Dickens and showing the tremendous journey Scrooge has taken from a wasted life of misery.
"One tradition that has developed is collecting for a local D.C. charity. When we began, it was a one-time event, but people loved the idea and wanted to contribute for a worthy cause, so we now collect after every show. Last year, a little boy came up to me, emptied out of his pockets what must have been all the money he had, and said, 'I don't want to grow up to be Scrooge.' "