By Rene Guerrero, Director of A Scrooge and Marley Christmas Carol
Wow. I can’t begin to tell you all the things I feel about this show. I got to take an idea and a thought from the page to the stage, and it was just like in my head, only better… I don’t know if you all realize what a gift that is to me. Actually, the first adaptation came pretty easy to me. I felt I had a valid point of view and set out to show that small changes to the original text and changes in actor intentions would allow an audience to see a new story. A “twist” on a classic tale, where Scrooge was an empty, lonely, loveless, closeted gay man who has been so repressed that he has lost his ability to give and receive love. I had always thought that Marley’s use of the word “partner” would lend itself nicely to my vision and that the breakup scene with Belle would easily play in this new version with lines such as “when I have learned a truth like this” and “I release you.” Come on, it was there on the page. I have known several women who had dated great men with style and sensitivity only to find they were really gay. It was always painful truth, but they always wished them happiness (after some healing of course). Add in a gay nephew, some societal/family pressures and a game of spin the bottle, and the original adaptation was born.
The casting process was full of anxiety. A Gay Christmas Carol!! What’s that, you say?! Would anyone even want to be a part of this journey? My biggest fear was would I be able to find the children for the show (you have to have kids for A Christmas Carol, even A “gay” Christmas Carol), and would their parents support the message of this new version? Will the audience understand the intention and not just think I was ruining this classic story? Would anyone even come to see it? Even in Los Angeles, that was a question I had to consider. But first, find the cast.
I found my first casting silver lining, right under my nose. As anyone who has written a play or movie knows, you work from what you know, and I had patterned the characters and built this show loosely around people who were close to me who I thought would be great in the roles. As a member of a wonderful classical theatre company, The Knightsbridge Theatre, I had access to some of the most talented people in the city, so eventually I was able to secure the core members of the cast. To complete the cast, I used the online casting services of LA Casting and Now Casting. The online casting submissions were sparse, which had me concerned, but I saw several people who impressed me with their talent and heart. I really wanted great actors who were great to work with..no drama, please. I found my second silver lining. I realized that these people (gay straight, men, women, adults and children YAY!) who submitted, not counting the people who submit for anything and everything (Ugh!), were genuinely interested in helping me tell this story and brought their talent and heart to the stage, and the pieces fell into place.
Each of my cast members was a gift and helped me lift my spirits when I was down and take me higher when I was up. They put their trust in me and committed to this new vision. My process was simple. I wanted honesty, not “camp”. I second-guessed that decision several times, thinking that maybe I had not gone far enough, maybe I needed more glitter and drag queens, etc…but I always went back to the text and to my vision. The adaptation changed quite a bit during the process, as a result of several “dreams” (see my previously posted Director’s Note). During the process, I did several re-writes, and even wrote new scenes as I discovered that my story had changed and was now about a young man who demonstrates a bravery that changed his life and the lives of those around him. I wanted to give a message of hope. It was thrilling. The bond of the cast grew and the friendship and family that were created was so special. Many of us are away from our families here in LA, and for this past 2 months, I had a beautiful, special, talented, loving family and I thank them from the bottom of my heart. I feel that I lead a pretty blessed life everyday, but sometimes when things align is such a beautiful way, I am reminded of a blessing that is greater than I imagined.
Humble Thanks and Happiest of Holidays….