The beloved holiday tradition of “A Christmas Carol” returns to Ford’s Theatre this holiday season.
“A Christmas Carol” has been an annual tradition at Ford’s Theatre for more than four decades, bringing Charles Dickens’ classic story of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey of transformation and redemption to the stage since 1979.
The Ford’s production, which runs through Dec. 31, has been adapted by Michael Wilson, and stars Craig Wallace as Scrooge, a role he’s played at the theatre since 2016.
The show also features Stephen Schmidt as Jacob Marley, Justine “Icy” Moral as the Ghost of Christmas Past, Kimberly Gilbert as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Jonathan Atkinson as Bob Cratchit.
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Schmidt has an even longer history in the show than Wallace, performing in “A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s for the first time in 1992, and returning a few times over the next five years.
“This production, directed by Michael Baron with text by Michael Wilson, began in 2009, and I have been in every performance since then,” he says, explaining he played the Clock Vendor for a while until getting the opportunity to play Marley. “I consider it one of the most beautiful and important stories ever written.”
As a huge fan of Dickens, Schmidt has loved this 1843 tale for most of his life.
“It’s a gift, not only to the people of his time, but forever,” he says. “And it’s such an exhilarating experience to be in a live theatre with families—their kids, grandparents, parents—who love to come see ‘A Christmas Carol’ every year.”
Returning year after year, as many in the cast do, Schmidt notes the text never really leaves his brain, so it’s easy to jump back into the role each holiday season. But he and Wallace always take time to talk about the story beforehand and discuss how things will be done.
“It takes some runs with blocking to dust everything off, but it’s easy to fall right back into this every year,” he says. “Sometimes I feel like I am channeling Charles Dickens. But we don’t do it exactly the same, we are effected by the world around us. Our world right now is sad and pessimistic, but we come to this text and find optimism, hope and redemption.”
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There’s an unwritten rule in Hollywood that one should never work with kids or dogs, but Schmidt praises the children involved in this production, which includes Harrison Morford and Harlan Killebrew who alternate as Tiny Tim.
“They are simply wonderful, all of the kids are,” he says. “This is a story that kids as young as 5 can get something out of, and I love seeing the kids in the audience smiling and getting the joy of the holiday.”
Ever since 2009, after the show, the Ford’s Theatre has collected money for a local D.C. charity, and this year’s production is raising money for Hope and a Home, which helps low-income families with children.
“It means so much to everyone, and I have been so grateful to have this experience,” Schmidt says. “I’ll continue doing this show as long as they do it. It really is not just a job, but a gift to everyone in the building, on-stage and off.”
“A Christmas Carol” at Ford’s Theatre runs through December 31. The play is two hours with one intermission, and is recommended for ages five and older. For tickets, showtimes and more information, visit fords.org.
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