Bradley Whitford Leads Stephen Sondheim Tribute at Opening ‘Christmas Carol’ – The Hollywood Reporter

The lights return at the Ahmanson Theater.

Center Theater Group lowered the curtain on Wednesday for the opening night of A Christmas Carol, the first product to grace the stage after nearly two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic. And it was a festive night. The giant Christmas tree on the patio was decorated with white lights and featured with a blue chandelier above, theater attendees lined up to check vaccine cards in chic holiday hats and reindeer ears, and hot chocolate being warmed up for a reception screening.

When guests entered for the 8 p.m. show, they were greeted with a white envelope on each seat. The card inside read: “We miss you so much. Tonight’s show is dedicated to you: The first to return. Ahmanson has been in the dark for 628 days. We imagine you’ve missed this as much as we have. As we gather tonight, surrounded by theater lovers, let the magic of this moment remind us that there is nothing quite like live theatre.”

Thomas Caruso is not one to be reminded. He directed the production and told The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet before the show, how grateful he is to be back in his most cherished place. “I am delighted,” he said. “It’s been 18 long months. To be back at CTG after such a long time, with this beautiful show all about hope, rebirth and starting over, it couldn’t be more thematic about what we’re going through right now. now. ”

The remake of Charles Dickens’ classic film – originally directed and conceived by Tony Award winner Matthew Warchus and adapted by Tony Award winner Jack Thorne – stars Bradley Whitford at Ebenezer Scrooge and place him opposite Kate Burton, Alex Newell, Chante Carmel, Dashiell Eaves, Brandon Gill, Evan Harrington, Chris Hoch, Sarah Hunt, Alex Nee, Sebastian Ortiz, Cade Robertson, Brett Ryback, Harry Thornton, Glory Yepassis- Zembrou and Grace Yoo.

“Bradley is the perfect Scrooge,” continued Caruso. “He is an actor and a generous human being and a great collaborator. I have known him from theater work but also from his wide variety of television productions over the years and to see him embody a person with such darkness and then, finally , let it go and embrace joy, humor and life, I know very few actors can have such emotions and play out the full range of emotions. He does it very easily.”

His wife, Amy Landecker agreed. She told CHEAP on the rug she gets emotional thinking about how happy he is to be in Scrooge. “Joy is running through his body every day because of this part – it brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it,” she explains. “It was exciting to see him go into a live performance and the rest of the cast went crazy. It’s a beautiful, very modern adaptation. This is not your mother Christmas Carol. Other than that, Bradley is just the sexiest Scrooge.”

Landecker also points out that the play’s famous themes fit perfectly with Whitford’s personal beliefs about equality, kindness, service, and redemption: “This role is everything her husband is all about. I trust the world in the play.” He has other fans in the audience. Dule Hill, Blair Underwood, Matthew Morrison, Ever Carradine, Jennifer Leigh Warren, Charles Shaughnessy, Kate Linder, Peter Paige and Joe Pacheco attended Wednesday’s opening.

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Amy Landecker, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Justin Mikita and Dule Hill on opening night. Hill, who worked with Whitford on West Wing, quipped, “I’m a better friend than Josh Molina because Josh Malina isn’t here.” As for Ferguson, he told THR: “Honestly I was a theater kid so it’s a great thing for us to go back to see live theater again.”
JC Olivera / Getty Images (3)

Pacheco said to CHEAP It’s special to be back at Ahmanson after an extended closure, but it’s also bittersweet as it marks the final hurdle for Michael Ritchie, who announced that he will be stepping down as art director on December 31 after 17 years of tenure. Ritchie was found during a pre-show dinner in a rooftop tent structure.

“I met Michael when I was 14 years old,” Pacheco recalls. “We worked at the summer theater, Surflight, and he was the chief technology officer. I also worked with him at Williamstown. He is one of my oldest and closest friends in the world and he is also one of the greatest men in the world. He will definitely be missed a lot. “

Emotions continued to run high on the show as the opening night was greeted with a standing ovation. With some in the audience still standing on stage, Whitford bowed to center stage and exclaimed, “We’re back!” He then introduced the audience to the Central Theater Group’s charitable partnership to run the show, South LA Café. The nonprofit partnership, led by Joe Ward-Wallace and Celia Ward-Wallace, seeks to combat racial, social, economic, and food inequities through coffee, community, and connectivity.

Whitford later admitted that the company was “grabbing” with how to deal with the great loss of Stephen Sondheim when the theater great died on November 26 at the age of 91. It happened close to home. for Whitford, a theatrical vet who had the honor of playing Sondheim in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s directorial debut. Accumulate… Accumulate… BOOM! newly released. “It is strange to open a show without acknowledging the loss of Stephen Sondheim,” noted Whitford. “This is possibly the least Stephen Sondheim performance you will ever see but I can tell you this, that mind opened the door to not only American musical theater but all theatres. ”

As a way to honor Sondheim’s legacy, Whitford then led his cast in a touching, if not unique, tribute. “We are about to honor the greatest Jewish composer and lyricist of American theater with an English song without lyrics, ringing in the bells. This one is for Stephen.”

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Bradley Whitford and Glory Yepassis-Zembrou in A Christmas Carol.
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

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Company made in a scene in A Christmas Carol.
Courtesy of Joan Marcus

A Christmas Carol is currently showing through January 1.

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