MUSKEGON — Dustin Day, the actor playing Bob Cratchit, is Caucasian. Kairo Johnson and Jayluand Knight, two of the young actors playing Cratchit’s sons, Tiny Tim and Albert, are African American. Many of the performers might give audiences the impression they are seeing double, if not more.
So goes Muskegon Civic Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol,” a musical adaptation of novelist Charles Dickens’ famous yuletide ghost story. The show will run Nov. 15 through Dec. 1 at the 169-seat Beardsley Theater in downtown Muskegon.
Director Jason Paul Bertoia is quick to point out that this “Christmas Carol” features colorblind casting. Also known as nontraditional casting and integrated casting, colorblind casting is the practice of casting without considering the actor’s ethnicity or skin color; ethnic minority actors play roles where race and ethnicity do not matter.
Beyond that, MCT’s “A Christmas Carol” features doubling, a practice in which individual performers play more than one character. For example, actress Da’Kiya Covington, who is Kairo Johnson’s real-life mother, plays two characters, both of whom are named Belle: one is young Scrooge’s love interest, the second is the wife of Scrooge’s nephew Fred (played by Brian Reeds who also haunts as the ghost of Christmas Yet to Come). Among others doing double duty is Samantha Portice who on stage will play Josephine, and also is the show’s choreographer.
The diverse — and busy — local cast comes from all over the area. “Christmas Carol” actors hail from Muskegon, Muskegon Heights, North Muskegon, Norton Shores, Fremont, Whitehall, Montague, Coopersville, Twin Lake, Newaygo, Rothbury, Nunica and Grand Haven.
That, Bertoia said, is what community theatre is all about.
“We have a full spread of community members from the Greater Muskegon area, and that exemplifies the mission of MCT,” he said. “Pretty cool.”
Just as cool have been rehearsals that have been going Mondays through Thursdays. This marks the first time in MCT’s 35-year history that the organization has ever produced a version of “A Christmas Carol,” and it’s been like the holidays have come early.
“It’s a Christmas classic that MCT has not ever produced and this being our anniversary season, it’s a great time to do this production,” Bertoia said.
“I’ve had such a great time discovering this adaptation of the show with our cast. It’s been great to be in the Christmas spirit four nights a week. This adaptation stays true to the heart of the story and keeps it simple.”
The show’s book and lyrics are by Sheldon Harnick, and the music is by Michel Legrand. Music director for the MCT production is Janie Glerum.
Evening performances will begin at 7:30 Nov. 15, 16, 22, 23, and 28-30, and 3 p.m. matinees will be Nov. 17 and 24, and Dec. 1.
Tickets are $26.50. They are available at the Frauenthal Center box office which is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The box office also will be open two hours before performances. To reserve by phone, call (231) 727-8001.