Princeton man brings Cratchit, Marley to life

Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t the only one who will be awakening old memories the next two weekends.

A Princeton man will be stepping back into community theater as he steps into the roles of Jacob Marley and Bob Cratchit when Giant Step of Rum River and Princeton

Community Education team up presents the holiday classic story of “A Christmas Carol,” at the Northern Lights Ballroom in Pease.

of Princeton, an award-winning English actor, is returning to the stage with his hometown community theater in “A Christmas Carol,” a play he originally performed in about 16 years ago in England.

As a matter of fact, the play was the last performance for the man with a love for the stage before marrying an Edina native, moving to the United States and Minnesota and eventually settling in Princeton.

In the story, Ebenezer Scrooge is haunted one Christmas Eve by his dead business partner Jacob Marley, played by Holmes. In that visit, Marley tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three more ghosts before the night ends.

Marley tells Scrooge that these ghosts –  Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future – must be sent to help Scrooge see the error of his ways before it’s too late. In the process of one long, sleepless night, Scrooge comes to realize that everything he has and does in life impacts those around him, not just himself. Scrooge is faced with his story of growing bitterness and meanness, and he must decide what his own future will hold: death or redemption.

 

Taking to the stage again

Holmes auditioned for the play after seeing an ad in the Princeton Community Education program guide encouraging people to get involved in “A Christmas Carol.”

“I saw the announcement and I thought, ‘‘A Christmas Carol,’ I’ve done that before,” Holmes said.

“It was the first time since I left England that I felt like, ‘Ooh, I’d like another shot at that’,” Holmes said.

So Holmes called director David Braddock of Giant Step Theatre and asked him a few questions. After talking, Braddock encouraged Holmes to audition for the play. The rest is history.

 

Fun to be back

Holmes, directors David and Cheryl Braddock, and the 32-member cast have been hard at work with daily rehearsals in anticipation of “A Christmas Carol’s” opening on Friday, Dec. 14. For Holmes, the play has rejuvenated his love for the stage.

“I’m having as much fun as before,” Holmes said. “This is awakening old memories and enthusiasm.”

And with a deep English accent much like the characters in Charles Dickens’ classic may have had because the play is set in England, Holmes says he has an important job on the set in addition to playing Bob Cratchit and Jacob Marley.

“It’s one of my jobs to work with the cast in making sure they get their accents right,” Holmes said with a laugh.

Holmes is also finding inspiration in the young members of the cast.

“The kids are great. They bring so much energy to it,” he said.

“They help me get enthused and when I see them perform it reminds me that ‘I used to be like this’,” Holmes said.

 

Cratchit and Marley

Holmes is being challenged by his two roles in ‘“A Christmas Carol.”

“That’s because my characters are from opposite ends of the spectrum,” he said.

“Marley scares the pants off of you while Cratchit makes you laugh and cry a bit,” Holmes said.

In this version of “A Christmas Carol,” Holmes is playing off the fact that Cratchit is full of Christmas spirit.

“I’m intensely exploring that the way I’m playing him. It’s a lot of fun,” Holmes said.

But it’s Jacob Marley that Holmes prefers playing.

“I’m really tapping into the despair and anguish of his tortured soul,” he said.

 

Award-winner

While performing in community theater while living in England, Holmes and his troupe had the opportunity to perform “The Golden Pathway Annual” in a national competition.

“I performed 14 parts in the play,” Holmes said. “I played everything from a chicken to an upper class twit of an officer.”

“The chicken,” Holmes said, “was quite a stretch.”

For his work, Holmes won a national award as best character actor. The woman who played opposite of Holmes had eight roles and she won the best character actress award, he said.

 

Performances

“A Christmas Carol” plays in the spacious Northern Lights Ballroom Dinner Theatre on the weekends of December 14, 15, 16 and 21, 22, 23. Friday and Saturday evening shows are at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday performances are at 12:30 p.m.

Reservations are required by calling 320-369-4622, at a cost of $29.95 per person for general seating. Further information can be found at the Northern Lights website at www.northerlightsbanquet.com.

Holmes is looking forward to Friday night’s performance.

“It will be a great first night,” Holmes said.

“It’s a wonderful feeling to have opening night jitters again!”

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