Citadel Theatre mounts 18th production of A Christmas Carol

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PREVIEW
A Christmas Carol
Dec. 6 to 23
Citadel Theatre
9828 – 101 A Ave.
Tickets: Start at $30 plus taxes. Call 780-425-1820 or athttp://www.citadeltheatre.com

Through the last 150 years, Charles Dickens’ famed A Christmas Carol has been adapted into every artistic discipline from plays, films and music to dance, animation and a multitude of satires.

The ghostly tale of seasonal redemption, a delightful contrast to the saccharine sweetness promoted through commercial Christmas advertising, signals an eerie prescience still relevant today.

The Citadel Theatre mounts its 18th edition of A Christmas Carol, where it opens with the restless spirit of Jacob Marley, bound by chains, doomed to roam for eternity trapped in a prison of his own making.

Former St. Albert actor John Kirkpatrick, now in his fourth season at Stratford, returns to the Citadel to reprise his old role of Jacob Marley, Scooge’s deceased partner, and Old Joe, a skinflint pawnbroker who buys stolen goods from the lower classes.

“I love the fact that they’re such strong characters. I like something I can get my teeth into. I like the transformation Marley went through and the effort it took him to warn Scrooge,” said Kirkpatrick.

A St. Albert Children’s Theatre alumnus, Kirkpatrick played his first Citadel role in the 1983 version of Peter Pan. He was Slightly Soiled, one of the Lost Boys.

Kirkpatrick graduated from the University of Alberta BFA acting program and worked through the challenges of building a professional career. His natural talent combined with dedication and hard work eventually landed him the role of artistic director for the River City Shakespeare Festival, a position he held for five years.

Now in his sixth go at the role of Marley, Kirkpatrick admits to being very territorial about the part.

“I love that he (Marley) has this love for Scrooge that has made him come to save Scrooge’s immortal soul.”

Traditionally the role of Scrooge was developed by actor Tom Wood who came to embody the miserable, penny-pinching miser. Wood retired from the part and his alternate Glenn Nelson is now the primary Scrooge. Julien Arnold, who was the long-suffering Bob Cratchit, replaces Nelson as the alternate Scrooge.

“It’s hard to find different things about their Scrooges because both are so good. Both embody what I imagine a Scrooge to be like.”

Would Kirkpatrick play Scrooge if offered the part?

“As I’ve been getting older, I’ve been thinking I’d like to play Scrooge. I’m getting to the right age and I love the journey he makes. It opens people’s hearts. It’s the transformation of a man that opens your hearts, and that’s what’s made it so successful for over 18 years.”

Kirkpatrick’s expertise in getting under a character’s skin is evident by a renewed contract with the 2018 Stratford Festival. He is cast as Walter Cunningham, a poor farmer in the racially provocative To Kill a Mockingbird, and as Caius, one of one of Julius Caesar’s conspirators in the tragedy of Julius Caesar.

Adam Skogstad, cast in the role of young Philip Cratchit, is St. Albert’s second actor in this spectacular production.

Just before returning to rehearsal, Kirkpatrick said, “Come and embrace the spirit of the holidays with Christmas Carol. With all the turmoil in the world, it’s nice to see a show that makes us smile.”

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Anna Borowiecki

Anna Borowiecki joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2000. She reports on local people and events in the arts, entertainment and food industry. She also writes general news and features.