A Backstage ‘Christmas Carol’

in Stage, The Lesser-Known Players

Michael C. Moore, Kitsap Sun USA TODAY NETWORK
Published 12:40 p.m. PT Nov. 30, 2018 | Updated 7:56 a.m. PT Dec. 4, 2018

A Backstage ‘Christmas Carol’ The Lesser Known Players-1

Charles Evered chuckled the chuckle of a man who'd heard the question before, or at least expected it.

"Why," to paraphrase the question, "yet another take on ‘A Christmas Carol'?"

"It comes down to having a lot of friends who are actors who are sick of playing Scrooge," said Evered, the author of "An Actor's Carol," which receives a two-weekend airing-out by Bainbridge Island's Lesser-Known Players beginning Dec. 7.

For his own part, Evered — whose play "Celadine" was performed by the Lesser-Knowns in 2017 — approached the project more out of reverence than contempt.

"It comes from a place of honor," Evered said during a recent phone conversation from southern New Jersey, where "An Actor's Carol" was receiving a November production at Cape May Stage. "Yes, it's been done over and over, in all different ways. But I happen to love the source material; it moves me every year."

Evered, who splits his time between his New Jersey homeland and Palm Desert, Calif., said he was looking for a way to modernize the story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge without changing that story's general — albeit well-trodden — structure.

A Backstage ‘Christmas Carol’ The Lesser Known Players-2
"An Actor's Carol" playwright Charles Evered also wrote "Celadine," performed in 2017 by the Lesser-Known Players. (Photo: Contributed image)

In "An Actor's Carol," the Scrooge character is Hugh Pendleton, a once-respected actor hardened by a long descent to the point of sleep-walking his way through the part in the cash-cow production of his nephew George's third-rate regional playhouse.

The circumstances of that descent, and the tools of Scrooge/Pendleton's spiritual rescue, are realized by Evered's script in a theatrical context.

"it gives you a chance to look at ‘A Christmas Carol’ from the outside in," he said of "An Actor's Carol," which begins as the curtain comes down on on the final performance of another season of the annual money-maker — the only money-maker — at George's run-down theater.

Evered, who'll attend the Dec. 8 performance of "An Actor's Carol" and be available for a post-play Q&A, said he noticed the Lesser-Knowns' production of "Celadine" on social media, including a promotional video.

"I thought it seemed like a cool company," he said, "so I reached out on Facebook and we started up a relationship."

He offered the script for "An Actor's Carol," which will be published in January, for LKP's holiday slot. Director Jennifer Hodges jumped at the opportunity, citing the play's unpublished status as definitely qualifying it for "lesser-known" status.

Nelsen Spickard, who still was up to his acting elbows in Bainbridge Performing Arts' "Return to the Forbidden Planet" when "Actor's Carol" rehearsals began, plays Pendleton. Duncan Menzies, Bronsyn Foster, Geoff Schmidt and Tyler Weaver pick up the show's Dickensian counterparts, mostly covering several roles apiece.

The production will also feature live carolers and accompaniment by Jon Brenner, who has composed a half-dozen original — and very topical — carols.

The play actually premiered back in 2015, a production directed by Evered himself near his Palm Desert digs and featuring Hal Linden (TV's "Barney Miller") as Pendleton. It's been through a couple of workshops between then and its brace of late-2018 productions.

"I'd say it's changed at least 30 percent (since its premiere)," Evered said of the script. "I thought to myself, ‘I want this to be right. I want it done every (Christmas) season.'"

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