It’s become an annual tradition to hear “Bah Humbug” around the McKinney Repertory Theatre (MRT) during the holiday season. Don’t mistake the tradition for a lack of holiday cheer, however. The organization, now celebrating its two-decade anniversary, hosts a popular production of Dr. Andrew Harris’ one-hour adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol” every year.
This year, the long-running tradition continues at the Courtroom Theater for a two-weekend production directed by Doug and Marilyn Latham, Dale Gutt and Teresa Miller.
“Our show has stuck and resonated with people who had seen it from the very first year. They’ve been coming back literally for the last 17-18 years, not only patrons but actors who’ve been in it for almost the entire time,” Gutt said.
The show is a classic retelling of “A Christmas Carol” with all the characters and beats one would expect, from Ebenezer Scrooge and the four ghosts to the Cratchit family.
“I was blown away when I read the script, because in an hour, Dr. Andy Harris was able to tell the whole story and not leave out any big details,” Marilyn Latham said, noting that the classic interpretation of the show always makes attendees happy and helps bring the holiday spirit to all involved.
Even with a tradition as long-running as MRT’s “A Christmas Carol,” the team behind the show still develops new elements for the production year after year.
Gutt said the production team works hard to find ways to add more depth to the characters and story each year.
“We always try to find maybe a new little twist here or a new little way to sort of adapt the story a little bit differently, but still (keep) the same message,” Gutt said.
This year, one of the biggest tweaks is a new approach to the iconic ghosts, including the imposing presence of The Ghost of Christmas Future.
In addition to directing the show, Teresa Miller has worked to develop the ghosts, noting the evolution of the show’s costume design over the years in order to keep it “fresh” and different for audiences.
“I really enjoyed doing the ghosts because there’s so many variations on the way those have been approached through the years, through movies and in plays, and I think we’ve found our niche as a community theater of a way to present those that (are) unique…theatrical and beautiful,” Miller said, describing how she’s been working on developing the ghosts for the past six years.
Overall, each of the directors agreed that the show consistently brings joy and happiness to the local community, even inspiring attendees through the story of Scrooge in the play.
Gutt remembered the story of an audience member who approached the cast and crew in tears after the show and explained that seeing “A Christmas Carol” had changed her life. Gutt said she told the production that the show made her realize she was overlooking the love and support around her from her friends and family just like Scrooge had been.
“She became a different person, so much so that the next year, she came back, and she said, ‘I just want you to know, I came back again to remind myself where I was and where I never want to go back to,’” Gutt said of the emotional story, adding how wonderful it can feel to inspire such positive change in people.
“I think, for the people of McKinney, we make an impact on their holiday,” Miller said. “I think we add to their holiday and seeing them all so happy and pleased with everything that we’ve worked so hard to do, it makes us feel good that we could do that for our community.”
The McKinney Repertory Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol” runs from November 24 to December 9. For more information about the show, including how to purchase tickets, visit https://mckinneyrep.org/.
These interviews were conducted prior to the death of beloved longtime MRT community member Doug Latham. The Collin-Denton Spotlighter extends its deepest condolences to Latham’s family, friends and loved ones.
These interviews were edited for clarity. The McKinney Repertory Theatre is an official advertiser with the Collin-Denton Spotlighter. Advertising does not guarantee coverage, nor does it affect the content of any coverage on the Spotlighter.