Alliance actors discuss Chris Kayser as 'Scrooge'

Chris Kayser as Scrooge in the Alliance Theatre’s 2012-13 production of “A Christmas Carol.” The Atlanta actor is beginning his 16th and final turn in the demanding role. “Because the last two years had been so great, really firing on all cylinders, (I thought) that it would be great to go out on my own terms and do it one more year,” he explained.CONTRIBUTED BY GREG MOONEY

caption arrowCaption
Chris Kayser as Scrooge in the Alliance Theatre’s 2012-13 production of “A Christmas Carol.” The Atlanta actor is beginning his 16th and final turn in the demanding role. “Because the last two years had been so great, really firing on all cylinders, (I thought) that it would be great to go out on my own terms and do it one more year,” he explained.CONTRIBUTED BY GREG MOONEY


THEATER PREVIEW

“A Christmas Carol”

Opens Dec. 4. Through Dec. 29 at the Alliance Theatre. $14-$75. 1280 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. 404-733-5000, www.alliancetheatre.org.

The official beginning of the end of Chris Kayser's epic run as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Alliance Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" comes Dec. 4 when the Charles Dickens' holiday classic opens.    You can read more here about Kayser's career.

Here what Kayser's 'Carol Colleagues have to say about the Atlanta actor:

‘CAROL’ COLLEAGUES ON WORKING WITH CHRIS KAYSER

Rosemary Newcott (director): "Back at the Academy Theatre's 'A Christmas Carol,' I was playing the Ghost of Christmas Past and Chris was Scrooge. Chris and I were both situated on a high platform that was designated to be his bedchamber.

“I remember we were talking with director John Stephens about how Scrooge might enter into the Past from this platform. I think it was John who thought it would be great if we could just fly off the platform. So, Chris did. He threw himself off the platform and grabbed hold of a pole a foot or so away and swung himself to the ground — effortlessly and magically. (The Ghost took the stairs.)

“To this day, I am still amazed by how much he conveys through the physical life of each of his characters. He is one in a million.”

 Andrew Benator (Jacob Marley): "What I admire most about Chris is something I was aware of but had not articulated until I saw a quote of his in a recent interview. His advice to the next actor playing Scrooge was to give it everything he's got — every performance — because every night is opening night to that audience.

“I’ve done several plays with Chris, and that work ethic runs through every show: He is an absolute professional. He sets a great example for younger actors to follow.”

Bart Hansard (Mr. Fezziwig, Ghost of Christmas Present): "I don't recall the first time I saw Chris Kayser onstage. He was always there, an Atlanta stalwart long before I considered throwing in my lot with these 'theater-folk.'

“I don’t recall the first time he and I worked together, but I do remember the first time I saw Chris perform the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.

“I remember how much he inhabited my imagined ideal of Dickens’ classic curmudgeon.

“I remember how I reveled in his ‘Bah, humbug’-gery!

“I remember how I pitied his lost loves and opportunities in his life.

“I remember how moved I was by his redemption and transformation into a man who loved life, the world and, most of all, ‘kept Christmas in his heart the whole year round.’

“When I got the chance to perform in the Alliance’s ‘A Christmas Carol,’ I was over the moon. I had waited for years to step into an opening, and was triply thrilled to get to play Fezziwig, the Ghost of Christmas Present and other characters that whirl around Mr. Scrooge on his Christmas Eve voyage.

“Working with Chris and playing opposite his scrupulous interpretation of this arguably most famous of Charles Dickens’ creations was the icing on the cake.

“Rosemary Newcott, our director, had placed me right where I wanted to be. But, definitely be careful what you wish for!

“Stepping into a show where most of the actors are returning to roles they have performed for several seasons; a whirlwind rehearsal process of 13 days; learning songs and choreography; costume and wig fittings; and then a tech where not only do you navigate fog, flying ghosts and levitating on a pedestal, but a myriad of costume changes as you circumnavigate the entire backstage and bowels of the theater to make meticulous entrances. … It beats moving cinder block, but whew!

“Through it all, Chris was a rock. He would calmly help me by simply letting me know that all would be well, things would fall into place and, come hell or high water, we were doing this show for folks who had made this a big part of their own family’s holiday traditions, so there was ‘no crying in baseball!’

“Over the last nine seasons, I have returned to this production for many reasons. Working with Chris and experiencing his performance nightly with the best ‘seat’ in the house is a huge one.

“We all play many characters, the better to populate jolly ole London.

“Scrooge is the one character who is constant, and Chris is onstage about 97 percent of the time. The company all comes flying at him throughout the show.

“Sometimes, just sometimes, you get a bit … lost, so to speak.

“Near the end of the show, the charity workers who were rebuffed by him earlier meet a transformed Scrooge in the street. He generously gives to their cause, his change of heart shocking and delighting them.

“As he hands us a generously stuffed change purse, we have an exchange where in our excitement, we are flummoxed. I, in character, blurt out, ‘I don’t know what to say!’

“During one performance, he handed us the change purse and I looked into it, dutifully flummoxed. Perhaps I was personifying the essence of flummoxed, but I blanked on my line.

“I had to say something, so I started hemming and hawing and kerfuffling and finally, after an eternity, managed to say the line: ‘I don’t know what to say!’

Chris looked at me with a glint in his eye, and evenly replied, ‘Clearly.’

“I couldn’t get offstage fast enough before I was consumed with giggles.

“Chris is not retiring. We will still enjoy his work onstage. I will still have the opportunities to work with him in the future. He may even show up as another denizen of ‘Christmas Carol.’ Though not as Mr. Scrooge.

“The show will reincarnate, as it has when other actors and directors and crew have stepped out to a change of pace, or a relocation, or just wanting a ‘normal’ Christmas season.

“We all return to this story, the performers, the running crew, the audience. … We return to a story that everyone knows the ending to because we all hope to be better than we think we are.

“We all want to correct our mistakes and be redeemed. We all want to be a ‘better Scrooge.’

“But I will miss ‘my’ Mr. Scrooge. I know of none better.

“This time, I really don’t know what to say.

“And, I am not giggling.”