The Louisville Cardinal

Actors Theatre brings Dickens’ classic to life

By Ashley Sonne–

The heartwarming classic “A Christmas Carol,” written by Charles Dickens, hits the stage at Actors Theatre of Louisville once again this holiday season.

Sponsored by Fifth Third Bank, Actors Theatre has performed the show for the past 39 years, becoming a Christmas tradition for many in Louisville. Actor William McNulty has played the role of Scrooge in the production for many years now. His interpretation of this character is one-of-a-kind as he wows his audience year after year.

McNulty has been Scrooge for 13 seasons. “I kind of lose count,” McNulty said, laughing. “Other people tell me how many times I’ve done it so I just believe them, but 13 sounds right.”

This year, Actors Theatre is taking “A Christmas Carol” to a whole new level featuring a redesigned set and new costumes.

“We started the process last year,” McNulty said. “Drew Fracher (the director) is a friend of mine, so I went to him with some ideas of ways we could make the show flow better, things in terms of trying to make my life easier as an actor.

“I think that this set and these costumes are really beautiful. I’ve heard from people that they have tremendous visual impact. I hear it’s really eye popping.”      

William McNulty has been with Actors Theatre for many years now. He also directs and writes the show “Dracula.” 

When asked if he would ever consider playing a different role in “A Christmas Carol” he replied, “I’ve played Scrooge, I played the Ghost of Christmas Present once and I played the role of the narrator 12 times or so. I’ve been around the production many, many years.”

“I think it’s a very challenging role. I don’t always feel like I completely solve it even after all these years,” McNulty said on his character. “It’s tricky, the production moves in and out of several different styles and for me, most of it, it’s pretty serious. It’s a pretty painful process that he goes through, that these spirits put him through. He has his heart broken and he is confronted with the consequences of the choices that he’s made in his life. Consequences in his own life as well as other people’s lives; it’s not a pleasant journey for him. In order for me to really feel like I’m doing my job, I have to put myself through that and go through that process as truthfully as I can.

“I want the audience to understand why he became this mean old man and how that happened. To follow his process of finding his way out of the prison that he’s built for himself and the great wall he’s built around his heart. So that’s the core of the production for me I think, and the central story that kind of weaves its way through all of the spectacle, music, singing and dancing. There’s a real point in the story there.”

McNulty find the role rewarding in many different ways. “They’re watching the story of someone who has understandably developed into a hard, cold person, and that it’s sort of their luck or fortune, any one of us might go this route. That if people followed that journey and think, ‘That could have happened to me, under those circumstances I could have been like that and maybe I am just a little bit like that. Maybe I should try to be just a little bit nicer.’ Any play that makes you think about your life, about humanity and the nature of the human experience, that’s a good play. If you leave the theater thinking about how maybe your life might be slightly changed as a result of seeing it, watching that story, that’s a good play. That means we’ve done our job.”