TV, film and Broadway star Charles Shaughnessy likes to have a little variety in his career. So instead of returning to the snowy East Coast to play Scrooge in A Christmas Carol this holiday season, he is traveling to the desert to star in the Scottsdale Musical Theater Company’s musical rendition.
The star of Days of Our Lives and The Nanny recently played Julian Marsh in SMTC’s 42nd Street opposite Debby Boone and Eloise Kropp. A Christmas Carol runs Monday, December 3, to Sunday, December 23, at the Tempe Center for the Arts.
“When I signed up to play Julian Marsh in 42nd Street at SMTC, I thought it would be a chance to add another role to my repertoire, for a short time commitment in a new place and, maybe, have a bit of fun in the process,” Shaughnessy says.
“Who knew it would be so much more? I found myself having a blast, working with a bunch of talented, charming people, in one of the most stunning theaters I have worked in and making some great, new friends.”
This musical version of A Christmas Carol features music by Alan Menken (Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast) and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens (Ragtime, Seussical). SMTC’s production will be directed and staged by David Hock, with dance choreography by Hock and Hillary Conrad. Musical direction will be by Joni Van Rossum with live accompaniment by a 20-piece orchestra conducted by Kevin Hayward.
“I really like David,” Shaughnessy says. “David’s great. The kids are great. The people who work for him are terrific. It was fun doing 42nd Street. We talked about Scrooge and A Christmas Carol. I told him there was always the chance I may be doing it elsewhere.
“But, I felt it was a long way to go and I had already done it there last time and it may not be best to repeat.”
Plus, Shaughnessy, who visited Sedona with his wife on his last visit, needed the challenge of a new Scrooge.
“Scrooge is an interesting character to play,” Shaughnessy says. “There’s a lot of watching. He spends a lot of time watching the action. You can’t switch it off. You have to be actively involved as Scrooge watching what’s going on.
“It’s obviously relevant for him. He has stakes in the game. It’s interesting to be on stage, reacting like an audience to what’s going on on stage and adding his bits. He makes a 180-degree change from a miserable curmudgeon to the happiest man on Earth.”
While Shaughnessy is in Arizona, he will appear in the big screen in the holiday musical film Buttons with Dick Van Dyke, Jane Seymour and Katie McGrath. (Visit fathomevents.com for more information.) Shaughnessy loves film and TV, but he’s a big proponent of theater.
“Theater is terribly important to a society moving forward and understanding itself,” says Shaughnessy, who has appeared in SYFY’s The Magicians. “More people should be willing to see new plays with tough ideas and things that are a little controversial or uncomfortable.
“It’s important for us, as a society, to constantly question ourselves and our values. That’s what Shakespeare’s writing about. You can see a classic and it’s dealing with the same stuff. It should be available on a community level. I encourage audiences to take a chance and experience live theater.”
A Christmas Carol, Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway, Tempe, 602.909.4215, scottsdalemusicaltheater.com, various times Monday, December 3, to Sunday, December 23, $42-$58.