NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Preparing to play Ebenezer Scrooge in the Crossroad Theatre Company's production of "A Christmas Carol" has had an effect on Count Stovall.
By the time the show debuts Thursday at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center, the Broadway veteran will have - just as Scrooge does in the timeless classic - revisited several parts of his life.
"I wept every time I would read the play at home by myself because I would start to recall - I being a man of a certain age - I would start to recall lost family, people you were absolutely in love with," Stovall said last month while taking a break from rehearsals.
"I'm a father of five and a grandfather of five and as a result, I have adult children. I have a daughter who's in college and one that's still in high school and my oldest one is 46 years old. So, the idea of knowing what it's like to feel all of all those memories to come to life, this play brings it to life on a human level for all of us."
Stovall sat in the dressing room, still in costume if not slightly still in character. He wore a faded three-piece suit and his hair (which hasn't been cut in several months) brushed to the side.
You can hear the music playing from the adjacent room as the rest of the cast rehearses one of the numbers, but Stovall, all 70-something years of him, is content to sit and talk about the crossroads. Not the theatre - although his association with the company goes back to 1981 and includes more than 10 productions.
No, he's talking about the intersection of his life and the role of Scrooge.
Through this introspection of the events of his own life, Stovall has come to Scrooge on a deeper level. The character whose very name is universally synonymous with cold-heartedness, avarice and even cruelty has, gasp, a very human side it turns out.
"That's where I found he wasn't a cruel person," Stovall said. "He was a hurt person, a sad person, a person in a lot of pain."
If this revelation about Scrooge can't help but have an effect on the show, neither can the multicultural cast that will bring the story of kindness, grace and the spirit of Christmas to life through music, dance and song in a way only Crossroads can deliver.
The rest of the cast includes Justine Rappaport ("Cinderella" national tour) as Christmas Past, Daniel Youngelman ("Little Shop of Horrors" on Broadway) as Young Marley, Michael Issac ("Bright Star" on Broadway) as Bob Cratchit, dancer Mariela Dorado ("Evita" on Broadway) and Dwayne Clark ("Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark" on Broadway) as Christmas Present.
"All of the ingredients to deliver a quality and entertaining production that our audiences expects come through the music, the choreography and our cast of superb actors," said Marshall Jones III, Crossroads' Producing Artistic Director and director of this production.
Crossroads' production of "A Christmas Carol" runs through Dec. 15.
"A Christmas Carol" is a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' novella written 176 years ago. The play comes to life through the music of Alan Menken, lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and book by Ahrens and Mike Ockrent. Menken is the Emmy-, Tony-, Grammy- and Oscar-winning American composer whose work is familiar to audiences through Disney's stage and screen productions including "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin" and "Pocahontas."
Camille Moten is the choreographer and Brian Westmoreland is the production stage manager.
Through the life and eyes of Ebenezer Scrooge, "A Christmas Carol" takes the audience on a mystical and magical journey of the cantankerous curmudgeon who, after being visited by ghosts from his past, present and future, is transformed to change his ways to embrace the spirit and holiday cheer of Christmas.
Check Crossroads Theatre Company's website for tickets.