A technological reboot for the old-school ‘Carol’

Nick Skubij as “the unsung hero” Fred…”I are typically consigned to these roles.” Photograph: Dylan Evans

HOLOGRAPHIC ghosts, authentic songs and Christmas carols are just some of the additional Yuletide treats provided by shake ‘n’ stir theatre’s upcoming manufacturing of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”.

Shake ‘n’ stir has been knocking the socks off Canberrans and Queanbeyanites for years – assume “Animal Farm,” Dracula” and “Jane Eyre” for starters, with “The Twits” coming to The Q subsequent 12 months, too. 

After I catch up by cellphone to producer and actor Nick Skubij on the firm’s house in Brisbane, I sense a specific amount of irritation over all the opposite “Christmas Carol” exhibits popping up across the nation, not least one billed as “joyous and uplifting” on the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne, primarily based on a conventional West Finish present. 

However shake ‘n’ stir theatre’s model, praised by “Broadway World” journal, is in his modest opinion one of the best, and all of the indicators are that he’s fairly proper. 

For the corporate’s sturdy historical past of variations and its use of modern expertise, plus the truth that the present has been round for 5 years in Brisbane, the place they’ll’t get sufficient of it, augurs nicely for this barely darker “Carol”. 

So common is shake ‘n’ stir’s large manufacturing that subsequent 12 months they’re going to do it with double forged in order that they’ll play concurrently and abroad arts centres are sniffing at it, together with Dubai. 

“We’re a bit soiled on these different productions,” Skubij says. “Clearly they observed we had been on to a superb factor and everybody needed a slice of the ‘Christmas Carol’ pie, so now each man and his canine is doing it.”

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Often they play it round this time yearly in Brisbane, a bit like “The Nutcracker” in New York, and for that matter in Brisbane, the place it vies with “A Christmas Carol” for venues.

Covid, it seems, has been optimistic for the corporate, with a paucity of theatres at house opening the present as much as touring, one thing he says they’ve been eager to do for a while. 

Skubij performs Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, “the unsung hero”.

“I are typically consigned to these roles,” he says, explaining that Fred is the polar reverse of stingy Scrooge. Moderately, he’s the epitome of the “typical Christmas man”, obliged to go to Scrooge on Christmas Eve yearly when he tries to encourage him to embrace the season, however at all times dismissed by the outdated miser with a wave of hand. 

Till, after all, this specific Christmas when there’s a type of reconciliation between Scrooge and Fred on the finish.

But it surely’s not his solely function.

“There’s a forged of 10. All of us play all types of various folks… for example, I play one of many Cratchit youngsters, aged about 9 or 10 and I pull it off convincingly,” Skubij says modestly. 

The difference has been achieved by shake ‘n’ stir’s Nelle Lee, final right here enjoying Jane Eyre, however Skubij says all of them contributed to the method. 

“We needed a big-scale, household manufacturing, one thing that households may get collectively watching, like Christmas films, or ‘The Nutcracker… folks love Christmas and the present caters to that, but it surely’s in no way old style, it’s healthful, but it surely’s one thing a bit greater than that.

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“We needed to stay on this planet of Dickens, and be trustworthy to his feeling, however we’ve up to date it with expertise and projections, and holographic three-dimensional ghosts.”

The unique music has been composed by Salliana Seven Campbell, who composed the rating for “The Drover’s Spouse” movie, performed dwell on stage with multi-layered instrumental sounds, together with the old school sound of the hurdy gurdy to offer it “an additional timbre”. 

Audiences ought to anticipate unbelievable surroundings, however the present can also be “fairly darkish, with a little bit of a thrill, like watching ‘Harry Potters’ while you’re a child.”

“We’re turning ‘A Christmas Carol’ on its head and repackaging it in a twenty first century method,” he says. 

“A Christmas Carol”, The Playhouse, December 20-24.

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