Some of the basic lessons of “A Christmas Carol” have rubbed off on Nicole Marie Green and Logan Black, the actors who play Mrs. and Mr. Cratchit this year at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre.
They’re playing Charles Dickens’ 175-year-old characters for the first time, and are grateful.
“Logan and I are lucky,” Green says, “because we are the ones who work most closely with the children actors, because we have a family.”
First, she explains they work with three children, then quickly recalculates to make it six children (two sets of child actors). She says she just “channels” her own mother.
“Basically, of caring and having strength and really holding up the family, because she’s at home cooking, she’s at home keeping the kids while Bob has to leave the house and do all the work for Mr. Scrooge, which means that he’s working quite a bit,” she explains.
Mrs. Cratchit doesn’t even have a first name, but Green is fine with that, too. She says that’s pretty common for female characters in older plays.
“But I think she has some grit to her as well.”
Black’s character, Bob Cratchit, who does have a first name, “has a job that, honestly, is pretty terrible,” Black says. “He works for a tyrant, and at the same time, at Christmas dinner, he’s gonna toast Mr. Scrooge. Without Scrooge and that measley 15 shillings a week, there would be no Christmas dinner.”
Green says that even though she now watches the play night after night, Ebenezer Scrooge’s transformation, as played by Gary Neal Johnson, never gets old.
“(Scrooge) is very self-involved, he’s not really connected to his community,” Green says. “To all of a sudden having this beautiful epiphany of appreciating what’s around him. I think it’s a special story and it’s a story that’s not only important during the holiday season, but just important right now in the world.”
Black says he has come to regard the play as not only the most beautiful redemption story in theater, but anywhere in literature.
“The spirits open a door for him to see all the other suffering and all the other joy in the world that he’s missed,” Black says. “But it’s really the community he ends up connecting to, as opposed to just being forced to change by these supernatural forces.”
Neither actor had landed the Cratchit roles in the past, though each had been in the cast before. Green played a laundress in 2015, and in 2013 Black played a character, Albert Hall, that was later eliminated from productions, at least in Kansas City.
Black says the old play and book only continue to gain relevance. He says social media gives most people the false sense of connecting with other people, though we now do that less often face-to-face.
He says the story encourages us to “Consider what these other families are doing and how you can have a positive impact on them. It’s easy to get sucked up in our own needs and desires, and once we take that bigger view it’s kind of a breath of fresh air. We are connected, let’s seek that connection out.”