Paul Nolan returns to the stage in Coventry to take on the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge in the Albany Theatre’s new locally-set adaptation of A Christmas Carol. He took a break from final rehearsals to talk to us about the enduring nature of Charles Dickens’ festive classic, Scrooge’s secrets and Christmasses past and present. Time to get booking!
It’s Christmas Eve and Ebenezer Scrooge has not an ounce of festive cheer. When the clock strikes midnight, Scrooge is visited by four ghostly spirits who each whisk him away on a magical journey through his past, present and future hoping to reveal the error of his cold heart and change his life forever.
Nolan is joined in the ensemble cast by, as Bob Cratchit, Joe Darke (who also provides music and puppetry), Robin Johnson, Ambika Sharma, Sam Yetunde, Pushpinder Chani and Lizzie Wofford.
A Christmas Carol is directed by Kevin Shaw, with choreography and movement by Olivia Berrell, music and puppetry by Joe Darke, set and lighting by Dan Tilley, scenic art by Trudy Rees Marklew and sound by Michael Molloy.
A Christmas Carol runs 4 to 26 December 2021 at the Albany Theatre, Albany Road, Coventry CV5 6JQ, with various performances at 10am, 2pm and 7pm. Check website for dates. Tickets from £15-18. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
In conversation with Paul Nolan
Paul Nolan‘s professional career began back in 1985 with Coventry’s Tic Toc Theatre Company, appearing in all of their national touring and community touring productions. His credits for the Albany include The Pity of War, Tom Murphy’s A Whistle in the Dark, Mike Kenny’s The Wind in the Willows, and his own production of The Window, which was staged in 2018.
A Christmas Carol is your fifth show for the Albany. What’s special about this theatre?
One of the first performances I did at The Albany was a piece I wrote for The Pity of War project directed by Claudette Bryanston. What struck me back then was the enthusiasm of the volunteer crew and front-of-house staff. I also like the ethos of the way opportunities are available to the new generation of young people wanting to get involved in the industry. It’s a stepping stone for them to explore and try out new ideas in a safe environment. I have always been fortunate to work with fantastic creative teams at the Albany and A Christmas Carol is no different.
Why do you think A Christmas Carol is such an enduring classic?
Charles Dickens wrote it in a very short space of time, during a time of deprivation whilst he was traveling around the country. Love, loss, greed, poverty, celebration, happiness and reflection are some of the key human traits which are described in the story, and they are as relevant today as they were over 175 years ago. It is still one of my favourite stories of all time.
What is different about the way that you’re doing the piece at the Albany?
Without giving too much away, I can say that this production is not your principal-boy, thigh-slapping, slap-sticking, dame-dwelling Christmas show, oh no it isn’t! It remains true to the original text, and with the ensemble cast under Kevin Shaw‘s direction, it portrays the story with dignity and honesty ‘to haunt you pleasantly’.
What is something surprising you’ve learned about Scrooge?
Don’t be too quick in judging the ‘covetous old sinner’. As the story unravels, you will see the life experiences Ebenezer Scrooge had, which is why I think he strayed to the dark side. There are some very tender moments, and you’ll hopefully see the change in him. The early description of him being ‘as solitary as an oyster’ certainly resonates.
Tell us a little about the rest of the company and what they bring to the show.
The entire A Christmas Carol creative team are a great bunch. The ensemble company of actors created a working bond very quickly, and we all brought different skills and ideas to the rehearsal room. The whole cast is very generous, and the entire process has had an honest ensemble feel. We can truly say it is a production of our doing that we’ve all contributed to.
In a nutshell, why should audiences see A Christmas Carol at the Albany?
Just over a year ago, theatres and live performances were in a state of fragility. This company of creatives has been waiting for this opportunity to share their skills, expertise and talent, in this, the Albany’s Christmas production during Coventry’s time as the UK’s City of Culture. You’ll only have a short time to see our version of A Christmas Carol so don’t let Christmas pass you by without witnessing the hard work that has gone into this enduring festive classic.
Tell us your own best Christmas Past story.
One childhood memory I have of Christmas time was when I was in Ireland. On St Stephens Day, I joined other children in ‘Wren Day’ in Irish Lá an Dreoilín. It’s an old Irish tradition where the wren is hunted for betraying St Stephen. It is a dark tradition where the Wren boys would go house to house singing their song.
What will you be doing this Christmas?
This Christmas will be a quiet affair with my family and friends where we’ll raise a cup or two of ‘smoking bishop’ in honour of the day, and hopefully if Father Christmas has visited, open a present after lunchtime.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I sincerely wish you and yours a very happy Christmas and a peaceful new year. Stay safe, be kind, and in the words of Tiny Tim, ‘God Bless us, everyone’.