It is a cool and crisp winter’s morning when Limerick Life speaks to Margaret Haugh, who’s directing Scrooge, which will be staged at the Lime Tree Theatre later this month. “It’s perfect weather for Scrooge,” she says, laughing.
“A little bit of frost on the way in will set the mood!”
The dramatic interpretation of Charles Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ sees the award winning Seoda Chamber Choir team up with the Actors Co-op for a lively production, where “the actors tell the story, while the choir provides the mood to back it up.”
The idea to stage such a production goes back many years for Margaret, who is also co-director of Spotlight Stage School.
“It’s really something that was at the back of my mind that I wanted to do. It struck me that choral music interspersed with the story of ‘A Christmas Carol’ would work.”
“This is the third time we’ve done it. We did it many years ago – I’d say eighteen years ago – with a different chamber choir in the Georgian House. Last year we had three performances at Belltable and they sold out completely.”
Following on from last year’s success, she was approached to stage the show at the bigger Lime Tree Theatre this year. With the access to a larger stage, and bigger lighting rig, Margaret knew the scale of the production would also change somewhat, as she explains.
“I’ve broadened the production, and it’s more dramatic and slightly longer. Anybody who saw the show last year will be delighted with the changes. There are some new pieces of music that we have included for this year’s show.”
The musical director and conductor for the production is Maire Keary-Scanlon, who also takes on that role for Seoda Chamber Choir who are Limerick’s only all-female chamber choir. Margaret Haugh is also a member of Seoda, and felt that they would be the perfect fit for this production.
“I’d been thinking for a few years that it would really work with Seoda Chamber Choir. Of course, I had to ask them first, and was met with unanimous agreement and excitement for the show. We have built up a strong repertoire of pieces,” she says.
As well as debuting new musical arrangements, this is also an opportunity for the group to show off some new style. “The choir have invested quite a substantial sum of money in getting new costumes for this production. Our costume designer, Brenda Murray, did an amazing job in creating these cloaks that I would describe as Anúna- like, so we should look fantastic anyway!”
As well as her directorial duties, Margaret will be performing with Seoda during the shows. Rehearsals for the production have been ongoing since the start of November, with choir and the actors working separately until closer to the date of the first show.
The cast is a veritable who’s-who of the Limerick theatrical scene. “We’ve a fantastic line-up, headed up by Brian McNamara who is playing Scrooge,” says Margaret.
This year’s production, however, will be a poignant affair. “Padraig Hastings, who plays the role of Charles Dickens, takes over from the late and very sadly missed John Finn, who died earlier this year. The production is a tribute to the memory of John.”
Also included in the ranks are the likes of Roisin Meaney, Nigel Mercier, Kim Burke and Nigel Dugdale amongst others.
It is a production that should appeal to most ages. “We did have enquiries about bringing small kids. I would suggest 8 years onwards, because of the choral music interspersed in the production. There are lighter and more familiar pieces of music like ‘Deck The Halls’ in the show.”
However, as Margaret clearly states: “It’s not a musical; it’s a dramatic choral production of the story.”
It is expected that the show will be even more popular than last year, so the advice is to book early. It remains to be seen whether Margaret will get her wish for more festive weather conditions to set the atmosphere for the theatre goers.
Scrooge is at Lime Tree Theatre on 15 and 16 December. More information at limetreetheatre.ie