Meet Hartford Stage's New Scrooge: Michael Preston
After nearly two decades, Hartford Stage’s holiday perennial A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas is getting a new Scrooge.
Michael Preston, who has been playing the role of Mr. Marvel for the last five years, is succeeding Bill Raymond in the lead in Michael Wilson’s stage version of the Dickens classic. The new production plays Nov. 24 to Dec. 30.
“When I was a young actor in New York I wanted to be the kind of actor that Bill Raymond was, who was then performing in Mabou Mines [the avant garde theatre company],” Preston says. “Then I went off to circus land.”
Preston is referring to his years from 1991 to 2000 with The Flying Karamazov Brothers, the vaudeville troupe of comedy, juggling and cirque skills that played internationally, including Broadway.
Preston’s hope of working with Raymond on stage came about when Preston became associate professor of dance and theater at Trinity College and he joined the Christmas Carol cast.
“He was funny, really funny,” Preston says of Raymond, who ended his 17-year run last year. “That physical training and sense of physical comedy is something that we share.”
Preston shares his thoughts on the classic character, how the play relates to modern times, and if he’ll find a way to work in his juggling skills.
And what will your Scrooge be like?
It’s not Hamlet, and yet it’s a profound role for actors who play it. I think I’ll bring a certain darkness and a mischievousness, even a meanness at times. But there are some highly comic moments, too. I never found those extremes to be against each other. With Bil, you always wanted Scrooge to learn something.