42nd Street Moon’s ‘Scrooge in Love’ grows larger in the City

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Broadway actor Jason Graae takes on the role of Scrooge for the second year in a row in 42nd Street Moon’s “Scrooge in Love,” playing in San Francisco through Dec. 24th. (Photo by David Allen)

If you want a long answer to a simple question, ask Dyan McBride where she works.

The longtime Bay Area theatre artist is everywhere. Teaching at San Jose State University in the South Bay on one day. Popping over to Fairfield to teach a class at Solano Community College on another. Throw in some days teaching at San Francisco’s Academy of Art College. How about a show in Napa? Yup, all that.

It’s a dizzying array of locales. So it was clearly fitting that on the night we chatted, McBride was in her car en route to the Theatre Bay Area awards show, where last year’s production of 42nd Street Moon’s “Scrooge in Love”was up for eight awards, including a best director nomination for McBride.

The production played in San Francisco’s 190-seat Eureka Theatre at the end of 2015, and was such a hit that audiences get a special treat this year. The production has moved on up, running at the 564-seat Marines Memorial Theatre in the heart of Union Square through Dec. 24th.

While the venue may be changing, some aspects aren’t going anywhere. Broadway actor Jason Graae returns to reprise his role as Scrooge and McBride helms the production again as the director.

McBride is positively giddy about what’s in store for the production at the legendary Marine’s Memorial. There are more bells and whistles in a bigger venue, a production that’s just like a big present the audience gets to unwrap nightly.

“It’s such a beautiful facility and I am glad our patrons get to have that experience,” said McBride.

Ebenezer Scrooge was first introduced to the masses in 1843, when Charles Dickens published his novella “A Christmas Carol.” In that story, Scrooge is an elderly miser who loathes everything about Christmas, a holiday he dismissively calls “humbug.” He’s a man who can’t be bothered with charity or holidays, begrudgingly allowing his employee Bob Cratchit Christmas morning off to spend time with his family and terminally ill son Tiny Tim.

On Christmas Eve, when Scrooge turns in for the night, three ghosts that represent his past, present and future visit him, and it is not a pretty picture. These visions of what has been lost and what will be lost haunt Scrooge, who then embraces Christmas and everything that makes the holiday special.

“Scrooge in Love” picks up that story a year later. While Scrooge has certainly embraced the wonderment of the holiday season, a man now forever changed, he still is missing one thing – love. He was engaged previously to the young and beautiful Belle. But when Belle realized she would always be second to money, their relationship was no more.

What is it about Scrooge that audiences are fascinated with?

“Ultimately, Scrooge gives a chance for everyone to think about the power of redemption,” said McBride. “We often face hard character challenges and hope for change, and when change presents itself in front of you, it allows us to grow and have a better life.”

Scrooge is compelling in that he is not far from his own mortality. His future is now measured in years and not decades. For a man that is known as a grumpy old miser, he certainly has plenty of levels that audiences can relate to.

“The play ‘A Christmas Carol’ deals more with the curmudgeonly Scrooge. He doesn’t really show up as much as the impish Scrooge that shows up in this version,” said McBride. “It’s a more hopeful story.

“In our show, we incorporated the Big Ben clock, which represents what Scrooge regrets and what he still needs to do on earth. That concept of time is a hugely important question. We only have so much time on the planet, and we have to ask, how do we use time?”

In the Bay Area, there is no shortage of “Christmas Carols” being produced all over, from grand scaled productions to versions that live in black box spaces. And even though there may be competition amongst companies to have audiences see their version of the Dickens classic, McBride doesn’t see that as a bad thing.

“It’s great for San Francisco and those who live in the Bay Area to have an alternative to ‘A Christmas Carol,’” said McBride. “I hope people go see other productions of ‘Christmas Carol,’ and when they are done, I hope they come down the street and see our show.“

That makes a lot of sense. After all, coming down the street to go to a theatre is pretty much McBride’s specialty.

WHAT TO KNOW IF YOU GO

42nd Street Moon Presents “Scrooge in Love”
Book by Duane Poole
Music by Larry Grossman
Lyrics by Kellen Blair
Directed by Dyan McBride
Through Dec. 24th
Marines Memorial Theatre
609 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Tickets range from $28 – $75
For tickets, call (415) 255-8205 or visit www.42ndstreetmoon.org

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