Community actor, faculty member takes stage for this year’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Community actor Bill Blanke is playing Scrooge this year. This is the first time in many years that a community member has been brought to act in a major role in "A Christmas Carol."
Photo by Mitch Kraus

ESSI AUGUSTE VIRTANEN | Editor-in-Chief

As the annual theater tradition “A Christmas Carol” enchants the stage this week, this year a community actor and a faculty member will be playing major roles in the production. 

Community actor Bill Blanke, 51, will portray Scrooge this year, which will be only his seventh role after he started community theatre last year. He said it has been a great environment to work at Lindenwood.

“The students that they’re turning out, there they’re very well educated,” Blanke said. “I have to keep up because everyone knows what they’re doing there, and I’m still learning a lot.”

Director of the production Donna Northcott said it’s been wonderful to work with Blanke.

“He’s approached this with such an open spirit just like ‘I’m a blank slate please tell me what you’re looking for, and I will try to give you whatever you want for the character’ so that’s been lovely,” she said. “He’s worked very well with the students as well. It’s a very collaborative cast, which is always welcome.”

Nick Kelly, an assistant professor of theater at Lindenwood, will be playing Jacob Marley this year. Being also a Lindenwood alumnus, he has been connected to the show a long time and has acted in it many times. 

“I’ve played almost every single role in Christmas Carol,” he said. “I even played the Turkey boy as a joke.”

Assistant professor of theater Nick Kelly portrays Jacob Marley in this year’s “A Christmas Carol.” Kelly has done most of the roles in the show but this is the first time he is in the show as Marley.
Photo by Mitch Kraus

Northcott said having more experienced actors in the roles can be an advantage.

“Scrooge and Marley in particular are characters where I think you just need a certain amount of life experience to fully able to portray them,” Northcott said.

Northcott has directed the show once before in 2014 when she made an adaptation from the original Charles Dickens novel. She said the challenge with the show is to make it feel “fresh” since it is done every year. However, having a few year’s break from directing it was helpful.

“I would not want to do it every year because then I think it would be very challenging to stay excited about it, but we have a new cast every year, and you are working with a new crew and different designers, so that right there bring freshness to it,” she said.

Northcott said the design elements add so much “depth and scale” to the show.

“I think that’s what I appreciate in the novel and try to point up in the script is the sad points in life, the sad opportunities, the missed chances and things like that and how heart rending that can be but there’s always hope.”

Donna Northcott

“I love what is happening with the sound design with the underscoring that’s happening, particularly in the apparition scenes, and there’s beautiful lighting design, the set and projections really, for me, do so much to bring the world of that show to life,” she said.

She said she loves mostly the melancholic parts of the story.

“I think that’s what I appreciate in the novel and try to point up in the script is the sad points in life, the sad opportunities, the missed chances and things like that and how heart rending that can be but there’s always hope,” she said. “There is always some hope to turn it around.”

Northcott said people should expect to see “an excellent ghost story” that is faithful to the novel.

“They will hopefully have a very warm familiar feeling seeing ‘A Christmas Carol,’ enjoying that holiday tradition again and hopefully it will resonate with them, and it will touch some hearts and give them some laughs,” she said. 

“A Christmas Carol” runs at 7:30 p.m. from Dec. 7 to 9 in the Lindenwood Theater. Students can get two tickets for free with their Lindenwood IDs. For ticket information, contact the Lindenwood Box office at 636-949-4433.

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