Let us bring you the best of times this December with Dickens’ A Christmas Carol! YLC spoke to the cast and crew about the past, the future and the present of this marvellous show.
Arguably the most famous work of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol has been a December tradition in English-speaking countries for decades. In the spirit of the season, the gift of Dickensian cheer also comes to Stockholm each and every year, with a group of talented British actors performing under the brilliant direction of Swede Pernilla Isedal.
“I’ve basically grown up with A Christmas Carol,” Isedal told YLC. “I was in the show for my first time when I was 18, back when it was put on by the English Theatre Company. It has a very warm place in my heart.”
When the English Theatre Company (which began showing A Christmas Carol back in 1988) closed in 2003, audiences felt as sick as tiny Tim. So everyone was grateful to Isedal and her friend, Anders Karlsson, director of The Theatre District in Stockholm, for the decision to bring it back in 2009:
“I wanted to experience the tradition again, so we did it. And it exceeded expectations. After the first show, people were already asking if we would be back next year. It’s now become a Swedish tradition, too.”
This year marks the fifth anniversary of A Christmas Carol’s return and she says it will be better than ever. The show is performed in the original English, which Isedal adapted herself from Dickens’ book.
“It sounds strange, but I read the book every summer,” Isedal laughed. “And every time I find something new. So it’s not like we do the same show year after year.”
On the decision to perform in English, Isadel states, “It’s just not the same, translated. It’s Dickensian English and that’s how it should be; luckily, Swedes know English so well that it works. The people who come are the ones who want to see it in English, in the original language.”
Below is a taster of what you can expect:
The cast is also almost entirely English, with the exception of a few Swedish children. Respective rehearsals start in both Stockholm and London at the end of the summer; at the end of November they meet to make the magic.
The part of Ebeneezer Scrooge is played by veteran actor Ted Merwood, possessor of a voice so rich, so deep and so deliciously British that our jaws dropped. Merwood is a versatile old hand at this; he’s been part of the company since the first show in 2009, playing five different roles over time, including Jacob Marley. But his favourite? Bah, humbug – Scrooge of course!
“Scrooge – to me – that is one of the greatest acting parts, because of the huge mountain he climbs,” Merwood confided.
“He goes from being the most miserable thing to becoming this beautiful, loving person, all in two and a half hours. It’s a wonderful transition, and an absolute gift for an actor. He goes through every emotion in the book.”
“It’s truly a beautiful story,” Merwood continued. “And it’s wonderful to be on stage at the end and see people pull out their hankies. You think, ‘Yes! Got ’em again!’ And when I say Merry Christmas at the end, I genuinely mean it.”
So do we. Merry Christmas from Your Living City and “God bless us, every one!”
A Christmas Carol is produced in cooperation with Blixten & Co and will be performed at the Maxim Theatre at Karlaplan in Stockholm. The big première is today, Tuesday, December 10 and the final show is December 23rd. Don’t be a Scrooge and miss your chance to participate in the best of Christmas traditions – get your tickets now.