Brimming with festive music and theatrical spectacle, an award-winning stage adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol returns to Canberra this holiday season.
Actor Lucas Stibbard, who is reprising the role of Bob Cratchit for the sixth time, still appreciates the opportunity to revisit his character.
“I love finding the nuance, the little moments, inflections and details, that slowly carve Bob into as realised a human being as possible. I love that about the writing. I love that there is so much there,” he explains.
As well as returning to a beloved character, Lucas also looks forward to spending time with his fellow cast and crew.
“We are like a touring family. It is lovely for us as a company to have this yearly opportunity to do creative work, catch up and spend time together. It’s so valuable. Sometimes, family are the people you have chosen and they are who you want to spend time with at this time of year, too.”
While the plot of A Christmas Carol is primarily concerned with the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, who is visited by four ghosts one evening, the story’s emotional heart lies with Bob Cratchit and his family.
“I love that Bob is trying to be as positive as possible within a situation that could quite easily lead him to be a negative human being. The fact that he manages to retain that positivity, to stay above it all and to hold himself and his family together and look after his son, I think, is a wonderful, almost lofty thing to represent.”
In this regard, the shadow of the ever-endearing Kermit the Frog looms large. (Yes, Kermit.)
Starring alongside Michael Cain, who played the role of Scrooge in the 1992 film A Muppet Christmas Carol, Kermit has gone on to become the iconic Bob Cratchit for many people, Lucas included.
“‘As a child of the 70s and someone who has worshipped Kermit my entire life, it was actually a big moment for me being asked to play Bob Cratchit!” he says.
“You can’t help but look at those things that have come before it, how they have been treated and remind yourself that this is an exciting thing to play because you play into the cannon of everyone who has come before you.”
Unique to this production, however, is the scale of the design elements.
In Shake & Stir’s signature maximalist style, the streets and buildings of Dickens’ London are created by towering set pieces that the actors move around the stage.
“I like that because there is that element of real danger in working with gigantic pieces of set that are moving. You need to stay alert and alive to the work in a physical way. It cannot just be rote. That and the fact it’s a great workout at the end of the year!”
Rest assured, watching A Christmas Carol won’t be a workout for the audience. The story that unfolds over 100 minutes is one of gentle festive cheer.
“I adore it! This story never fails to move me in terms of its key messages of hope, redemption and how a loving community can help change someone, move them to a better place.”
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is at the Canberra Theatre Centre from 19 to 24 December 2023. Tickets from the Canberra Theatre.