He’s baaaaaaack. Ira David Wood III will once again don the hawkish prosthetic nose and ratty gray wig and trowel on the old-age makeup to play Ebenezer Scrooge when the curtain goes up on Theatre in the Park’s 37th annual edition of Wood’s madcap musical version of A Christmas Carol — a Triangle holiday tradition since 1974 — which this year will be performed on Dec. 3 and 4 in the 2,700-seat Durham Performing Arts Center, in the American Tobacco District in downtown Durham, NC, and on Dec. 8-11 and 13 and 14 in 2,277-seat Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Raleigh, NC.
At age 64, Wood ruefully admits, it requires less makeup than it did in December 1974, at age 27, when he first played his role signature role as the malicious, misanthropic old miser whose miraculous Christmas Eve conversion, after a series of ghostly visitations, is one of the most beloved stories by 19th century English novelist Charles Dickens (1812-70).
On Nov. 23rd, David Wood told Triangle Theater Review:
“I am so excited to be returning to the show! This has been one unforgettable year … with a few months (and announcements) still left to go.
“Last November, I spent seven hours on an operating table at WakeMed, undergoing extensive open heart surgery to replace my entire ascending aorta, half of my aortic arch, and the aortic root, which holds the aortic valve.
“My surgeon also replaced the aortic valve with a tissue valve, and re-implanted my own coronary arteries. Miraculously, in only eight days, I was home again, making preparations to celebrate the upcoming holiday season. I remain extremely grateful to those who had a hand in saving my life. I hope to honor the ‘encore.’
“I am especially proud of my son, Ira David Wood IV, who stepped into the role of Scrooge last year and filled the old miser’s shoes with joyous ease! My daughter, Evan [Rachel Wood], also served as eyes and ears for the show. I remain so very proud of the incredible job they both did and of what they managed to accomplish. They brought all of the aspects of the show together and gave it miraculous wings! I was so proud to sit in the audience for the first time and watch it soar.
“This year’s production of A Christmas Carol boasts 89 immensely talented onstage company members. Add at least 20 wonderful offstage folks to the mix, and you end up with something truly magical!
“As always, we’ll be updating a few things … adding some current political humor … and tweaking here and there to keep things fresh and entertaining.
“Veteran favorites David Henderson [as Scrooge’s long-dead partner in greed Jacob Marley], [basso profundo] John Shearer [as the Ghost of Christmas Present], and Mike Raab [as the Ghost of Christmas Present Future] return as Christmas ghosts. You’ll also see a good many new faces in the cast.
“We’ll have an onstage wedding proposal, and will be publicly welcoming a very special new member to our A Christmas Carol ‘family.’
“This year’s production won’t simply be a show … it’s truly going to be a celebration! We invite you to join us! And as always, we remain humbled and grateful that you have chosen to include us in your celebration of the holidays!
“I’m also happy to announce that Scrooge has written a new Christmas book entitled Confessions of an Elf [http://www.tatepublishing.com/bookstore/book.php?w=978-1-61346-767-1]. It was officially released on November 22, 2011, and is available in area bookstores and on Amazon.com. It will also be on sale in the theater lobby during the run of A Christmas Carol.”
SECOND OPINION: Nov. 27th Raleigh, NC News & Observer preview by Glenn McDonald: http://www.newsobserver.com/2011/11/27/1670741/after-real-life-drama-scrooge.html; Nov. 17th Chapel Hill, NC WUNC-TV interview with Ira David Wood III, conducted by Julia Ann Carpenter for “North Carolina Weekend”: http://video.unctv.org/video/2168859630; and Nov. 15th Raleigh, NC News 14 Carolina interview with Ira David Wood III, conducted by Tracey Early: http://coastal.news14.com/content/top_stories/649607/in-depth–ira-david-wood-iii—a-christmas-carol-.
Theatre in the Park presents A Christmas Carol, starring Ira David Wood III as Scrooge, at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 and 2 p.m. Dec. 4 in the Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian St., Durham, North Carolina 27701; and 7 p.m. Dec. 8 and 9, 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 10 and 11, and 7 p.m. Dec. 13 and 14 in Raleigh Memorial Auditorium in the Progress Energy Center for the Performing Arts, 2 E. South St., Raleigh, North Carolina 27601.
Durham: $33-$85.75 (including fees).
Raleigh: $32.25-$89.75 (including fees).
DPAC Box Office: 919/680-ARTS (2787), firstname.lastname@example.org, or http://www.dpacnc.com/events/how_to_buy_tickets.
Ticketmaster for Durham: 800/745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115558/890378.
Ticketmaster for Raleigh: 800/745-3000 or http://www.ticketmaster.com/venueartist/115203/1003849.
SHOW: http://theatreinthepark.com/a_christmas_carol_special_event.html. and Durham: http://www.dpacnc.com/index.php/events/detail/a_christmas_carol. Raleigh: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/event/a-christmas-carol-325.
Durham: http://www.dpacnc.com/ (directions: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan_your_visit/getting_here and parking: http://www.dpacnc.com/plan_your_visit/parking_guide.
Raleigh: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/venue/memorial-auditorium (directions: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/directions and parking: http://www.progressenergycenter.com/parking).
The Musical: http://web.me.com/idw3/A_CHRISTMAS_CAROL/OVERVIEW.html (official website).
Ira David Wood III: http://www.theatreinthepark.com/theatre_staff_board.html (Theatre in the Park) and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ira_David_Wood_III (Wikipedia).
A Christmas Carol (background): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Christmas_Carol (Wikipedia).
A Christmas Carol (e-text): http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/46 (Project Gutenberg).
Charles Dickens: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens (Wikipedia).
Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.
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