Scrooge

This week on Facebook a friend posted a picture of a ghost of Christmas past. It was me.

The picture is thirty-five years old but I never saw it until this past Monday.

I had the great honor and pleasure of being cast as the ghost of Jacob Marley in the McFadyen/Hoopman production of Scrooge, the musical version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Now, here’s the untold story: I had to put on those chains and hook up to the harness more than a half hour before my entrance. They had to haul me up to the rafters above the stage before the curtain opened and the show started. There I hung, suspended 20 feet above the stage, chains and all, while the audience enjoyed this long overture and then a wonderful scene with a crowd of men, women and child actors in costume singing a beautiful Christmas song.

?And when that was over and the thunderous applause died down…another song started as I continued to dangle overhead.

More applause. More music…

Ebeneezer Scrooge watches a rousing musical number by the kids.

Occasionally, one of the kids would glance up at me wondering if I was about to come crashing down on top of them. I never did of course but I’ll tell you this – the next number I hung around for was Scrooge himself, singing a song called “I Hate People”. By that time I was beginning to understand how he felt. I’d been drifting overhead for half an hour, chains and all. I was anxious to float down through a cloud of roiling fog as Marley and give old Scrooge what-for.

Those were great times. And it’s fun to see the pictures again and to realize how special a relatively few afternoons and evenings of my life have meant to me in the long run.

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, “the spirit of Christmases past, present and future will always live within me,” in great thanks to the wonderful theater family I was invited to join more than a generation ago.

Tiny Tim nailed it: “God bless us, every one.”

Music and lyrics for "Sing A Christmas Carol" by Leslie Bricusse, performance by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir & Orchestra.

Comrades, Frati, Brothers!

I was one of those annoying kids who was always showing off. I put on plays for my parents, forcing my little sister to be incidental characters. I think I cast her as a dog once.

In high school I had lead roles in both senior plays. Before that I was cast as a 16 year old Ebeneezer Scrooge in a Sacramento Parks & Recreation teen workshop production of A Christmas Carol.

As an adult I’ve acted in and directed dozens of plays and in the process I came to write a few.

That’s where my friend Florin found me.

Florin Piersic Jr. read my first play, Brothers!, and liked it so much he produced, directed and starred in its first professional staging at the National Theatre in Timisoara, Romania, three months ago — 17 years after he first read it.

I flew to Romania to attend the opening. The show was magical even though I didn’t understand a word of my own dialogue.

Florin brought me onto the stage for the curtain call. We hugged in the spotlight, our first in-person meeting after swapping emails for nearly two decades.

Florin is a wonderful actor, a ruggedly handsome man, gentle and soft-spoken off stage; fearless before his audience.

Tonight he’s in Hollywood for the premier of an Amazon Prime TV production, Comrade Detective, in which he costars with Channing Tatum, who lends his voice to Florin’s bold on-camera performance.

Florin Piersic Jr.
IMDB.com

Comrade Detective exhibits Florin’s physical acting skills while withholding his perfectly nuanced vocal delivery.

You can’t spring this much talent on America all at once.

Rupe un picior, prietene, Florin!

Break a leg, my friend.

(PS. After publishing this I was informed by another Romanian friend that there is no such expression as "break a leg", meaning "good luck", in the Romanian language. What I said here was apparently a sincere and friendly wish that Florin should literally break a leg...and not necessarily his own! This is why I love words.)