by Ana Valenzuela
The crowd would cheer, the crowd would applaud, the crowd would clap. Each time the cast finished a number together you can hear the cheer of the audience. A Christmas Carol had been remade so many times that it is almost difficult to stage an incredible production, but this is what 9Works Theatrical did at Globe Iconic Store, Bonifacio High Street Amphitheater, BGC, Taguig.
The crowd ranged from shoppers, passersby, yuppies, and of course ticket holders. The best scene is the one in the end, as the reformed miser Ebenzer Scrooge comes to make peace with his family and hopes to have dinner with them, a dreamlike moment fills the air, and snow began to fall.
Miguel Faustman, who played the lead, Ebenezer Scrooge shared that he never gets tired of playing Scrooge. “This is the first time I did this version of Scrooge, It’s very abridged, it’s very tight. So many scenes, so many sets, it’s so much longer the other versions I’ve done. This is much quicker, snappier,” he said. Faustman has also done Fezziwig and Jacob Marley in other productions.
Faustman said, “it’s a story about him and his change and his realization about how terrible he was, about how he could see himself through the ghosts of his past, present, and future would be. I think it’s beautiful.”
A Christmas Carol is 9Works Theatrical’s biggest production—cast and venue— to date. “The enormity of the venue and the corresponding stage that has to be designed to accommodate it I knew was a task and it took a while also for my cast to fill the space with their performance energy,” shared director Robbie Guevara.
“Our first day here I was afraid that we underestimated the venue,” he said. “But once all the elements came in, especially the costumes, for some magical reasons they were really able to fill everything and not make it look like they were being eaten up by the stage. On our first day, I was actually alarmed, but not anymore. They know what they need to do to fill every gap, to communicate to the audience what they want communicated.”
The size of the production may be brought about by the intent of it to be a tradition, with Globe Live wanting to mount it every year. “When we first met with Joe (Caliro of Globe Live) and his team and he said that he saw in our season that we have the rights to American Idiot, Globe Live was interested in doing the same. He already said that what I actually want to do come December, this was December last year, American Idiot was May to June of this year. So he goes, ‘it’s too late to do it now, what I really want to do this December is A Christmas Carol, the Alan Menken version.”
As the two production arm met for the American Idiot, in the back of their minds was another project. “So that was already in the back of our heads. Every time we met for American Idiot, up until the time we opened it, and even before we closed, they were already discussing it, over a year of planning,” said Guevara.
Even though it’s the start of an annual staging, there might be differences the next time. “Staging it wise though, it will never be the same. If we do this again, this version of Alan Menken, we will have to rethink everything. Maybe, the silhouettes of the costume will be the same because its period, Victorian,” Guevara said.
There is also the different Broadway and off-way Broadway versions of A Christmas Carol to consider. “I don’t know if he wants to do all of them, or he wants to keep on doing this, because he is patterning it after the Nutcracker which is only one version,” Guevara said with a smile. “If we do this again, it will be a different experience altogether.”
The next time they mount the production, they could ease off on regrets. He revealed that they wanted Scrooge and all the ghosts to fly, but it wasn’t approved by Globe for safety reasons. “Have we decided on that early on, and then we could have taken on steps earlier to ensure that the structure could support it. But it was too late to install what was necessary, so it’s not impossible to do it next time,” Guevara said.
Guevara encourages us to see this production more than once, he said, “that is the beauty of live theater, you can come back a second, third, fourth time, it wouldn’t always be the same. It’s unlike a TV show or a movie, when you replay, it’s the same thing. Live theater will never ever be the same. Come back, watch it more than once.”
A Christmas Carol runs weekends at the Globe Iconic Store in Bonifacio High Street Central until Dec. 25.