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Dickens tale with twist.

THE Birmingham Rep's new production of A Christmas Carol, which began this week, is still a classic Victorian ghost story but with several modern twists.

The two youngsters playing Tiny Tim are girls, Marley's ghost arrives in a spectacular flying stunt and the Ghost of Christmas Future is a terrifying puppet.

The cast were even going to be rollerblading at one stage, until director Tessa Walker realised it might be too dangerous.

"We didn't really have enough time to rehearse the complicated choreography - and I had visions of people rollerblading into the orchestra pit," says Tessa, the Rep's associate director, brought in by new artistic director Roxana Silbert.

"The production is firmly rooted in Victorian England, like Dickens' novel, but there are so many modern parallels to the story. It feels contemporary, although I thought the message would come over more strongly if we kept it in Victorian times rather than having everyone wearing trainers and using iPhones.'' There's an ensemble of 13 actors, 12 of whom play 50 parts between them. Only Matthew Ashforde plays just one character, Ebenezer Scrooge. He made his professional debut at the age of 10 in the first Cameron Mackintosh production of Oliver! in the West End.

There's also a large cast of children, including two girls alternating the role of crippled Tiny Tim, who gets about on crutches.

"We tried really hard to find tiny boys, but they were all too tall and healthy looking," remembers Tessa, a former pupil of Earlsdon Primary and Finham Park Schools in Coventry.

"We thought for a long time about whether to use children at all, but I think children in the audience love seeing other children on stage. It's a real family Christmas show, though not suitable for undersevens."

A Christmas Carol runs at Birmingham Rep until January 4. For tickets, ring 0121 236 4455 or go to www.birminghamrep.co.uk.

CAPTION(S):

In rehearsals for A Christmas Carol are, top, Guy Lewis (Bob Cratchit) and Adelaide Morgan (Tiny Tim) and Jo Servi las Jacob Marley's ghost.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 29, 2013
Words:342
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