Miracle Theatre’s Artistic Director, Bill Scott, tells us more about this year’s festive production, Bah Humbug! A Christmas Carol.
We love a proper Christmas tradition, from sipping mulled wine around the fire to singing carols in the market square. But one of our favourites has got to be a family trip to the theatre. Of course, here in Cornwall, we like to do things a bit differently, which is what makes the prospect of a Miracle Theatre production all the more exciting.
Known largely for its travelling open-air stage shows, you’re probably more likely to have experienced the Miracle magic across the summer on a beach or clifftop – perhaps at the Minack. But a new tradition is forming, thanks to last year’s production of Cinderella at the Princess Pavilion in Falmouth. Miracle took the story back to its roots, presenting it as a Victorian pantomime, which revealed the behind-the-scenes mechanics and antics of a Victorian production – a novel twist, in effect creating a play within a play.
Eager to discover what this year holds, we track down Artistic Director, Bill Scott, to find out more. “We started to think about the next production almost straight away,” explains Bill. “Cinderella was pretty much a sell-out… two performances a day for three weeks, so we wanted to replicate that success, but without repeating ourselves.” Bill’s enthusiasm is infectious; even down the phone line you can pick up his palpable excitement. “So this year, we’re doing our take on a Christmas Carol. It’s a very seasonal story – most people are aware of it in some form, even if they’ve only seen the Muppets’ version! We’re putting our own Miracle spin on it, trying to bring out humour in what is quite a dark tale. The big challenge there is to give it a layer of comedy, but not to the detriment of the story.”
The show will harness digital wizardry, including “projections within projections”, to bring Victorian London to life on the stage, all underpinned by a dramatic and rich underscore – much like that in a film. Indeed, while touring is Miracle’s bread and butter, taking residency for the show’s duration allows the team to go to town with the effects, putting on a more lavish, technical production.
Steve Jacobs takes on Scrooge – “it’s the role he was born to play!” beams Bill – backed by a large cast from Miracle’s revolving family of actors, enhanced by a local supporting cast.
As we speak, the cast are deep in rehearsals, a particularly exciting time for Bill, when things start to truly come alive. Bill, who usually writes the script and directs, isn’t overly precious, keen to let it evolve organically. “Comedy comes from the rehearsals – of course, you can write jokes, but comedy is all in the timing, the expressions, mannerisms and interaction – a single raised eyebrow can give an entire scene a different meaning. The director’s job is to spot what works and what doesn’t.”
You can expect a great family show, recommended for children aged seven and above, offering something for both adults and children. “It’s a classic story with all the elements you would want,” concludes Bill. “It’s very moving, seeing the transformation from the worst parts of a character turning to their best; it’s funny and touching, without being saccharine; a truly multi-layered experience.” What better way to get into the Christmas spirit?
In the words of Tiny Tim, “A merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!”
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