NLT actors prep for ‘A Natchez Christmas Carol’
NATCHEZ — It may seem counterintuitive that one of the most famous ghost stories of all time is not told at Halloween but at Christmas, but every year the tale of Ebeneezer Scrooge and his four spectral visitors is inevitably one of the first stories shared to put people in the holiday spirit.
That’s no exception in Natchez, though locally it’s told with an Old South twist.
Natchez Little Theatre’s 10th anniversary production of “A Natchez Christmas Carol” will open at 7:30 p.m. Monday and will continue at 7:30 p.m. each Friday, Saturday and Tuesday though Dec. 21. The show will also have 2 p.m. Sunday matinees during its run.
Much of the story of “A Natchez Christmas Carol” — adapted by NLT’s Executive Director Layne Taylor — is the same as the Charles Dickens novella from which it draws its inspiration, but rather than being set in 1840s London, it is staged in 1869 Natchez.
Scrooge — who is portrayed by Don Vesterse — is a mean-hearted miser who runs a cotton brokerage and has a former slave, Bob Cratchit, who works as his clerk. The story opens when the ghost of his former partner, Jacob Marley, appearing on Christmas Eve to tell Scrooge three other ghosts will visit him that night.
The rest of the story focuses on Scrooge’s personal transformation as the three ghosts — the Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present and the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come — show him who he formerly was and what might become of him if he does not change.
First-time Director Morgan Mizell has taken the helm for the show, and she said the cast and crew have worked hard to stay true to the heart of the story while providing an entertaining twist on the story for the audience.
The show has also been revamped this year, with the directing team changing how cast members interact with the set and adding two musical numbers and cutting out another one.
“There is not a great deal of wiggle room with blocking, because you want to stay as true to the Dickens classic as possible, but you also want to try different things, like maybe having cast members enter through the audience,” Mizell said.
“There is a little pressure there when you know so many people have seen this show and know what to expect on a certain level.”
While the decision was ultimately made to cut the song “The 12 Days of Christmas” from the production for time purposes, two new songs were added to round it out as a musical, including adding two solo parts, Mizell said.
“This has been billed as a musical, but it didn’t have as many songs as the other musicals we have done (at NLT), so this year we added those new songs to give it a more musical feel,” she said.
Songs included in the musical include the classic Christmas songs “In the Bleak Midwinter,” “Carol of the Bells,” “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” “Silent Night,” “Here We Come a Caroling,” “Joy to the World,” “Hark the Herald,” “Christmas is Coming,” “Sweet Little Jesus Boy,” “What Child is This,” “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” and “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Cost for tickets is $15.
A 7 p.m. Dec. 5 performance will be hosted to benefit the Dawn Taylor Memorial Youth Scholarship. Tickets to the benefit show are $10.