A Christmas Carol, which uses Dickens’ own performing version of his literary classic as a starting point, is co-created by Callow with Tom Cairns, who directs and designs the production. It premieres at the Arts, where it runs for a limited season from 8 December 2011 to 14 January 2012.
Callow played the author himself in The Mystery of Charles Dickens, the one-man show written by Dickens biographer Peter Ackroyd, which had West End seasons in 2000 and 2002 in addition to extensive UK touring. That earlier piece used extracts from Dickens’ stories alongside anecdotes from his life, with Callow portraying famous Dickensian characters including Bill Sykes, Mrs Gamp and Mr Micawber. Dickens himself was known for his interest in the theatre, and depicted a number of his own literary creations, such as A Christmas Carol, on stage.
Callow has also written extensively about Dickens, voiced both the author and Ebenezer Scrooge in the 2001 animated film Christmas Carol The Movie, and more recently performed his double bill of Dickens’ monologues Dr Marigold and Mr Chops, for which he was Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated this year, at London’s Riverside Studios and on tour.
A Christmas Carol is presented at the Arts by Riverside Studios and Assembly Festival. This month, Callow is performing another monologue, Tuesday at Tescos, at Assembly during the Edinburgh Fringe. Earlier this summer, he presented his one-man Being Shakespeare at the West End’s Trafalgar Studios, having launched it last year in Edinburgh at Assembly.
At the Arts Theatre, A Christmas Carol will run alongside two other festive offerings. Jo Noel Hartley’s children’s show The Lazy Elf, presented by the Jam Theatre Company, will have 19 daytime performances from 10 to 23 December 2011.
Meanwhile, Tiny C: The Reason for the Season, an alternative adult Christmas show from the “multi Grammy Award-winning country singer” Tina C, the creation of Olivier Award-winning UK comedian Christopher Green, will have ten late-night performances at 10.30pm from 14 to 30 December 2011. It’s produced by Mig Kimpton for Arts Theatre Productions Ltd.
The themed winter season follows this autumn’s “Drama at the Arts” season, which runs 1 September to 26 November 2011 and comprises three consecutive plays: Out of Joint’s A Dish of Tea with Dr Johnson, starring Trudie Styler (for part of the run), the Arts’ revival of The Killing of Sister George, starring Meera Syal, and A British Subject, written by and starring Nichola McAuliffe.
Mig Kimpton, who is executive director at the Arts, commented on the winter programme: “The Arts Theatre continues its short season policy of providing good-quality productions in its central London location. The Winter Season combines a special mixed programme for children, adults and those that enjoy festive cabaret. We are extremely excited to welcome Simon Callow, The Lazy Elf and Tina C all in one season! There are a few days where the theatre will host five performances of the three different shows in one day.”
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