FRT rings in the holidays with “Scrooge”

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Isabelle Tavares

The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice, Charles Dickens described in his classic novella “A Christmas Carol.” NMU Forest Roberts Theatre (FRT) will retell the novella in a musical titled “Scrooge” beginning on Dec. 12.

The shortened version follows the journey of a sour old man’s discovery of the true meaning of Christmas. With a large storybook setting the scene at the back of the stage, an 8-foot tall puppet and animated characters, this production rings in the holiday season, said director and Marquette community member Susan Candey.

“The first reaction that I get from people when I tell them I’m directing “Scrooge” is ‘Oh, I’ve seen that 16 times before,’” Candey said. “It’s such a long-standing tradition here, but we have a couple things that are
different that people should
come [and] see.”

Associate Dean and Director of Art and Design Deric Christian reinvented the “Scrooge” stage with his use of projections instead of physical objects used on sets. Christian compiled images of Victorian London to really bring the stage to life, Candey said. However, the largest change is casting a woman as Scrooge. Gwinn resident Monica Nordeen will play the role of Scrooge as the Christmas spirit transforms him from a bitter old man to
a joyful presence. Nordeen said she is excited for the challenge it
will present.

“I have been working hard on my vocals and being physically consistent in playing a male character. I’m making sure I’m not doing feminine gestures because I want to nail that
role,” Nordeen said.

Lasting an hour, the stage version of the musical created in the 70s includes classic songs like “Thank You Very Much,” and “December 25,” Candey said.

Candey, a Marquette native, earned her bachelor degree in music and ran the Marquette high school theatre department for a few years and has recently switched to freelance directing, she said. She was offered to direct “Scrooge” and she said she “jumped at the idea.” With a diverse cast, 50 percent NMU students and the latter community members, Candey said directing an NMU production is different from
the high school productions she’s accustomed to.

“It’s really exciting to see what everyone brings to the table because this is a pretty diverse cast with the ages ranging from three to adults,” Candey said. “It’s a little bit challenging at times, but very charming to see everyone together on stage and bring their own quality to it.”

Although “Scrooge” is university produced, auditions were open to community members as well.

“There’s a real family spirit about it. If someone gets a compliment, everyone’s like ‘yay,’” Candey said. “The best
part about being in this production is the way the cast supports each other. From the time of
callbacks, to a week before production, everyone has been so supportive.”

The play will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 12 through Dec. 15 at 4 p.m
and Dec. 16 at 1 p.m.