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A Christmas Carol - Gareth Hale stars as Scrooge

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

GARETH Hale will play Scrooge in Susie McKenna and Steve Edis’ adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, which runs at the newly refurbished Arts Theatre from November 25, 2009 (previews from November 11) to January 10, 2010.

When Christmas-hating Sidney and his nephew Danny accidentally get locked in a theatre, the last thing they expect is to have to perform A Christmas Carol on stage in front of an expectant audience, aided by two out-of-work actors, the resident theatre cat, and a mouse with stage fright.

But, according to the press release, this is no ordinary night at the theatre, and a sumptuous sprinkling of festive charm is about to transform this Dickens’ classic like never before…So as they set about putting on a show with whatever props and costumes they can muster, plus a little help from the audience, Scrooge’s magical journey to rediscover his love of life, mankind and Christmas begins.

The cast, who between them play over 30 roles, also includes Simon Lipkin, Rebecca Thornhill and Michael Matus, as well as the voices of Matthew White as Charlie the Theatre Mouse and Sharon D. Clarke as Bentolina the Theatre Cat, and puppeteers Brian Herring and Erin Lister.

Actor and comedian Gareth Hale is best known as one half of the comedy duo Hale and Pace, whose television credits include Hale and Pace, Pushing Up Daisies, The Management, The Saturday Gang and Jobs for the Boys. Hale’s other TV credits include Doug MacKenzie in Family Affairs (from 2003 to 2005) and head porter Jack Bell in The Royal.

On stage, he has appeared as Lucky Eric in John Godber’s Bouncers (UK tour) and Alfred P Doolittle in Trevor Nunn’s production of My Fair Lady. And only last month, he and Norman Pace returned to Australia for their eighth national tour.

Rebecca Thornhill‘s West End credits include Les Misérables, Show Boat, Chicago, Ragtime, Mary Poppins, The Full Monty, The Witches of Eastwick, Aspects of Love, Annie Get Your Gun, Oklahoma!, Beauty and the Beast, Cats, Me and My Girl and She Loves Me. For her performance as Lina Lamont in the West Yorkshire Playhouse production of Singin’ in the Rain (revived at the National Theatre), she received an Olivier nomination. She was most recently seen in the UK touring production of The Witches of Eastwick.

As well as pantomimes such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Cinderella, Simon Lipkin has appeared on stage as Nicky and Trekkie Monster in the original West End cast of Avenue Q and Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (New London Theatre).

Michael Matus‘ theatre credits include Oklahoma! (Chichester Festival Theatre), Imagine This (New London Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Timon of Athens (Shakespeare’s Globe), The Canterbury Tales (Royal Shakespeare Company), The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe (Royal Shakespeare Company at Sadler’s Wells) and The Taming of the Shrew (Theatre Royal Plymouth). On television, he has appeared in A Prince Among Men, The Bill, A Perfect World and EastEnders.

Although probably best known for her role as Lola Griffin in BBC TV’s Holby City, Sharon D Clarke‘s London theatre credits include Charity in Mother Goose (Hackney Empire), Mama Morton in Chicago (Adelphi Theatre), Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre) and Rafiki in The Lion King (Lyceum Theatre).

Matthew White‘s West End credits include Ragtime, The Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Les Miserables and Cinderella.

Susie McKenna,writer and director, and Steve Edis, composer and arranger, are regular collaborators best known for their award-winning Christmas productions at the Hackney Empire. For A Christmas Carol, they are joined by associate director and choreographer Frank Thompson, designer Lotte Collett, musical director Ian MacGregor, lighting designer David Howe and sound designer Richard Brooker. The puppet designer and fabricator is Scott Brooker.

A Christmas Carol is the first in what will be a five year initiative between Tiny Tim Productions and the Arts Theatre, presenting Christmas entertainment for family audiences. This year the Arts will transform its front of house areas to create a Victorian themed foyer offering Dickensian treats.

Tickets: £15 – £37.50.

For more information call the box office on 0845 0175584 or visit the websites.

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