Actor tours country playing every one of 43 characters in ‘A Christmas Carol’
CULPEPER, Va. - One man portrays every one of the characters – all 43 of them – in “A Christmas Carol,” which he has performed in venues nationwide about 70 times.
“This play has followed me around for most of my artistic life,” said actor John Hardy, an associate artist with the Barter Theatre in Abingdon, Virginia. “I got my actor’s union card doing ‘A Christmas Carol’ off Broadway in 1983 when I played Scrooge’s nephew, Fred.”
In two ensuing productions, Hardy portrayed the underpaid and underappreciated Bob Cratchit and then he played mean old Ebenezer Scrooge in a more modern version of the Charles Dickens novella first published in 1843 in London.
Eight years ago, the actor adapted the famous holiday story of ghosts and redemption into the one-man play starring himself.
On Sunday, Hardy will perform at the Castleton Theatre in Rappahannock County, Virginia. Castleton is home to the intimate European-style pocket theater imagined by the late Maestro Lorin Maazel and his widow, German actress Dietlinde Maazel.
Throughout the 75-minute production, Hardy will never leave the stage or change costumes.
“Being an actor myself, I appreciate the enormous challenges such a one-man show with multiple characters represents,” said Dietlinde Maazel, CEO and artistic director at Castleton. “I am in awe of Mr. Hardy who combines astounding theatrical virtuosity with deeply moving, honest acting.”
Hardy said it’s not difficult for him to get into characters, but that he would spend the hours before the performance warming up vocally, physically and mentally.
“The way I do it it’s not storytelling , it’s actually a piece of theater. I don’t talk about these characters. I allow them to live their particular moment in the play. I get so involved in the play because of that. I am actually living through the events of the play. It just flies by,” he said. “I get to experience it from the point of view of each of the characters so that’s a thrill and because of that it surprises me every single time I do it.”
More than anything, doing the play is mentally challenging, Hardy said.
“It has a life of its own,” he said, adding, “I don’t get tired at all after the play – now, four hours later after the play ends I can barely walk, but not immediately after just because of the energy of the whole thing. It’s a life-affirming story and it supplies its own energy.”
Hardy said he most identifies with Scrooge.
“We all have to resist the urge to only see the negative parts of life. I have to remind myself to see the best in someone, see the best in the situation, which is the fun thing about watching Scrooge and also why he’s so funny,” he said. “It takes a lot of effort to dislike everybody and everything so when you see him little by little begin to enjoy life it’s like he’s a child. It’s literally like he’s been born again.”