PORT TOWNSEND — Fifty-six minutes, 26 characters, one storyteller: Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” will be given a special treatment this week.
Allen Fitzpatrick, the Seattle actor who has directed a number of Key City Public Theatre productions, is returning to Port Townsend to perform his freshly created version of Scrooge’s tale.
With musicians alongside, he’ll step onto Fort Worden’s Wheeler Theater stage today and Thursday; he and KCPT will also provide an online viewing option.
Yes, “A Christmas Carol” has been produced in just about every conceivable way, Fitzpatrick acknowledges. There’s a punk rock version. There was a huge show at Madison Square Garden.
Yet, for him, the singular route is a powerful one.
This month, Fitzpatrick debuted his “Carol” at a venue in Leavenworth and performed it at Seattle’s new Aspire Repertory Theatre, where actor friends remarked on how moved they were.
This one-man “Christmas Carol” will begin at 7 p.m. today and at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Wheeler Theater, 200 Battery Way at Fort Worden, with tickets at $40.
Local musicians Bertram Levy and Bobbi Nikles will accompany Fitzpatrick as he portrays “the narrator to Scrooge to Marley and everybody else,” as he puts it.
While Fitzpatrick wears one simple costume, the show has more than two dozen sound cues in it, all to spark the viewer’s imagination.
For theater lovers who prefer to watch at home or who live far away, the play will be available for streaming today through Saturday for $20 per household, while reservations for the in-person and virtual options are all available at www.keycitypublictheatre.org.
This 178-year-old tale is exquisitely on point, Fitzpatrick believes.
“The focus of the play is on children in want,” and families facing a Christmas without comfort.
Dickens, appalled by the amount of homelessness and hunger in his home city of London, wrote his novella to get the wealthy people’s attention.
“There were starving families on the street, by the tens of thousands; 300,000 were not getting enough to eat, and that was London alone,” Fitzpatrick said.
“He was going to produce a government-sponsored report. Instead, he thought, ‘What could I write that would have more impact?’ His purpose was to shine a glaring light on the hideous situation,” and inspire the affluent ones to open their hearts and share.
“There are some references in this play that are so strikingly 2021,” the actor added.
Denise Winter, Key City Public Theatre’s artistic director, has spent the past year on a major renovation of the playhouse in downtown Port Townsend. New seats, a larger lobby, a new ventilation system, modernized restrooms and a reconfigured box office are all part of the project, which is not quite finished, hence the use of the Wheeler Theater.
For her part, Winter is delighted to be presenting a show with a performer she admires.
“Allen Fitzpatrick is a treasured guest artist with KCPT,” she said.
His “Christmas Carol,” she added, is a “magnificent tour de force — a long-awaited gift of live theater that will transport us all.”
Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or email@example.com.