It’s Christmas Eve in Victorian Leeds, surprisingly packed with festive spirit, music and a little magic as the tale is re-told at Leeds Playhouse. The prospect of theatre lights once again shining brightly despite the pandemic is a welcome one for so many of us.
A Christmas Carol is due to open on 3 December, just one day after the pending lockdown is set to end. Working on the premise that it will go ahead:
The Playhouse’s Quarry Theatre will be “transported back to a traditional Victorian theatre, where spectral performers have been patiently waiting for a chance to share an incredible adventure.”
A Christmas Carol is adapted by playwright Deborah McAndrew and directed by Amy Leach, Associate Director of Leeds Playhouse. Amy’s reimagining of Oliver Twist with Ramps on the Moon came to a sudden end when lockdown was imposed in March.
Amy: “It feels particularly lovely this year to be sharing a magical Christmas story with audiences featuring ghosts waiting to perform in a dimly lit theatre, reflecting the hopeful stoicism of the many wonderful artists who have been waiting for theatres to reopen in the wake of the pandemic. A Christmas Carol gives us a truly magical opportunity to come together again and to share a story infused with goodwill, festive spirit and optimism.”
A Christmas Carol, which we are all hoping will run from 3 December to 9 January, is entertainment for families, which whilst grounded in the past, nonetheless reflects our current day lives.
Hayley Grindle, Set and Costume Designer, has managed to integrate social distancing and Covid guidelines with a touch of magic.
The production also includes integrated British Sign Language (BSL) at every show and will feature creative audio description at a number of performances, courtesy of Hear the Picture.
Jack Lord will be joined by Stephen Collins and Nadia Nadarajah, alongside some of the Playhouse’s Ensemble – Dan Parr (Romeo & Juliet, Leeds Playhouse) as Young Scrooge and Fred, Tessa Parr (Road, Hamlet, There Are No Beginnings, Leeds Playhouse) as Christmas Past, and Lladel Bryant (Road, The Night Before Christmas, Leeds Playhouse; Nine Lives, Leeds Studio) as Dick Wilkins and Topper.
Everal Walsh (Sweeney Todd, Leeds Playhouse; Amadeus, National Theatre) will play Marley and Fezziwig, while Lisa Howard (When We Are Married, Northern Broadsides; George’s Marvellous Medicine, Curve) takes on the roles of Christmas Present and Mrs Fezziwig.
The Playhouse is offering 1,000 free tickets for NHS workers for A Christmas Carol as part of the #LeedsSaysThanks scheme with further offers for other frontline workers to be announced for future productions.
Artistic Director James Brining: ‘This will be a unique and perhaps unusual Christmas for many of us and we want to play our part in helping it to still be a celebratory time by expressing our heartfelt thanks to the key workers – especially those in the NHS – who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Their selfless and brave dedication has been a lesson to us all. It feels appropriate – and, indeed, is a real pleasure – to show our appreciation on behalf of the Playhouse and our audiences.’
Christmas at Leeds Playhouse is sponsored by Families Partner Caddick and Access Partner Irwin Mitchell. A Christmas Carol is a Leeds Playhouse production in association with Hull Truck Theatre.
In line with current government guidelines, audiences will be limited. Social distancing and temperature checking will also be in place.
A Christmas Carol, Quarry Theatre, Leeds Playhouse
Box office 0113 213 7700. Book online leedsplayhouse.org.uk.
Feature photograph is Amy Leach. Photograph by Anthony Robling.