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Broadway actor Dirk Lumbard stars as Scrooge in Lyric Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol

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(C) 2010 TURIPHOTOGRAPHY.COM
  • (C) 2010 Turiphotography.com

Dirk Lumbard might portray Ebenezer Scrooge, but the actor does not require supernatural intervention to find the Christmas spirit.

Lumbard becomes one of literature, film and theater’s most famous curmudgeons in Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s production of A Christmas Carol, which runs through Dec. 24 at Lyric’s Plaza District theater.

The Broadway and nationally touring actor has appeared previously in two Lyric productions, most recently as Fagin in 2011’s production of Oliver!, based on the popular 19th-century Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. Dickens also wrote A Christmas Carol, first published in 1843.

Lumbard said his love of Christmas and the holiday season is childlike.

The actor’s excitement for the season increases incrementally as the evenings become longer.

Even for Lumbard, however, there is a reasonable time to begin celebrating.

He recalled walking into a store recently and seeing a version of A Christmas Carol playing on a television.

“I thought, ‘Oh my Lord. Really?’” Lumbard said in a recent interview with Oklahoma Gazette. “I love it, but at least can we make it to Thanksgiving?”

Right timing

Michael Baron, Lyric’s producing artistic director, first contacted Lumbard around three years ago about appearing in the holiday classic.

At that time, the actor was new to a job at North Carolina’s East Carolina University (ECU) and could not take the time off to fully participate in a production in another state. Earlier this year, Lyric asked him again.

This time, he accepted.

Lumbard said he is excited to return to Lyric and work again with Baron, whom he said the theater and Oklahoma City are very lucky to have.

“He’s incredibly creative,” Lumbard said. “He directed the shows [at Lyric] I did before. He’s one of the finest directors I’ve worked for, and he’s also one of the most pleasant people to work with as a producer and as a director.”

Several talented local actors join Lumbard in the production: Charlie Monnot as Bob Cratchit, Stephen Hilton as Jacob Marley/Mr. Fezziwig/Old Joe, Melissa Griffith as Ghost of Christmas Past and Mateja Govich as Ghost of Christmas Present.

Lumbard said Oklahoma City is home to a large base of quality actors, in part because of several high-caliber university theater programs in the region.

“There’s an incredible group of local talent there,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons I’m glad to be back.”

Holiday heart

A Christmas Carol is one of the most widely reproduced stage and film productions of all-time, holiday-themed or otherwise.

Lumbard said there is an intrinsic quality to Dickens’ work that helps the tale resonate across generations. He said the same goes for Oliver!

“The language and the characters are just so much fun and over the top,” he said. “Yet the message underlying in each of these pieces is incredibly profound and important. It’s the reason these pieces have continued through history and will continue through eternity.”

Lumbard has read Dickens’ A Christmas Carol novel and said the Lyric version largely resembles the original.

He used the original text to delve into the root of what makes Scrooge so cold and angry.

As Scrooge visits past Christmases, audiences see Belle, Scrooge’s one-time fiancée, end their relationship.

Lumbard said adding onto that pain is the fact Scrooge’s cherished sister Fan, the mother of Scrooge’s nephew Fred, died in childbirth.

“I think that’s part of the reason he rebels against Fred,” he said, “because I think it hurts him too badly.”

It can also be inferred through a close reading of the original text that Scrooge’s own mother died in childbirth and his father possibly blames him for it, which is the reason he has to spend all of his childhood Christmases alone at his boarding school and why he holds a longstanding grudge against the holiday.

Lumbard said he enjoys taking a clinical approach to his role and taking the character full circle, from holiday Humbug to the embodiment of the Christmas spirit.

“It’s interesting because I’ve really got to delve into being angry,” he said.

Scrooge has a revelation after he is visited by the final ghost of the night. Lumbard said his line before Christmas Day is very poignant, not just during the holidays, but for life.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year,” the text reads. “I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”

“It’s such a wonderful line,” Lumbard said, “and we all need to be reminded of that.”

Visit lyrictheatreokc.com.

Print headline: Getting grumpy, Broadway actor Dirk Lumbard becomes Ebenezer Scrooge in Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma’s A Christmas Carol. 

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