Charleston Stage Ensemble Member Gabriel Wright, a Man of Many Faces
Gabriel Wright joined Charleston Stage this fall as a regular member of the Acting Ensemble playing Luther in Hairspray. In A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas, Gabriel plays not only Jacob Marley but also Pirate Billy Bones, Hatmaker Phineas Fezziwig, hard of hearing Mr. Cruickshank and the Butcher who provides Scrooge with the famous turkey “as big as Tiny Tim.” “It’s all great fun,” says Wright, a recent graduate of the College of Charleston, “though I have some lightning fast costume changes. In Julian’s adaptation, Marley not only comes to warn Scrooge that he better change but then appears as other characters to guide him along the way. Having one actor play all these roles helps allow the shadow of Marley to be cast through the entire story. I really enjoy roles like this because it allows me to grow as an actor. Truthfully, you can never stop growing. You’re in the constant process of learning in theatre, whether it be from fellow actors, directors, audience members, crew or individuals who share an enthusiasm for the theatre. It’s always great to keep yourself open to learn, especially when doing an exciting production as this.”
Gabriel Wright will also be appearing in Charleston Stage’s production of Blue in January.
Gabriel Wright as Jacob Marley in A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas.
Gabriel Wright as Jacob Marley and Brian J. Porter as Ebenezer Scrooge.
From Cabaret to Clowns to Scrooge, Brian J. Porter One of Charleston’s Most Versatile Actors Takes on Scrooge
Brian J. Porter is fast becoming one of Charleston’s most noted actors, and we’re happy to have him take on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge this year. Brian was seen as the Emcee in Cabaret last spring and most recently as one of the clowns, playing dozens of parts in Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps. “I enjoy playing a wide variety of roles,” says Porter, “and I’ve certainly had a workout this last year. In A Christmas Carol I’m down to one part but what a part it is. In many ways this is one of the most challenging because most people come to this show with a pre-conceived notion of who Scrooge is. My job is to make him not just a one-note miser, but one who is real and has many emotions. Unlike most people, I’ve never actually seen a production of A Christmas Carol, so I didn’t really come to the role with a lot of pre-conceptions. I’ve had great fun in finding what makes this old codger tick. Hopefully audiences will enjoy and rediscover this great character with me.”
Before coming to Charleston, Brian performed as a professional actor in Memphis and in Atlanta as well as on a resort island in Michigan. Brian was an apprentice at Playhouse in the Square in Memphis and has served as Executive Director for two non-profit theatres. Brian is currently the Technical Director for Charleston Stage.
From left to right: Brian J. Porter as Emcee in Cabaret, Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas and Clown/Man 2 in Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps.
Brian J. Porter as Ebenezer Scrooge.
If it’s Christmas or almost Christmas then Charleston Stage must have a show or TWO ready for the holiday season. This is a really exciting year for me because I am directing The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and acting in A Christmas Carol. I have directed both of these shows multiple times and am always amazed at how different each production can be.
In Carol, I play Mrs. Tabor (Scrooges’ maid) and the Ghost of Christmas Past. After watching from the audience for so many years it is a great change to be right in the middle of the action. I am really enjoying working with so many actors who I have directed in the past. Half my cast of 39 Steps (Brian Porter and Beth Curley) are on stage with me and are using yet another accent. Marley is played by Gabe Wright who I met when I cast him in our season opener Hairspray. Watching him transform from the always energized dancer to Ol’ dead Marley has been just one of the surprises in store for me. There are 20 young actors who I have taught in our TheatreSchool classes, some for many years, including my daughter Prentice who plays Belle. And just to prove, yet again ,that theatre is a very small world, Chris Edwards, who appears as my fellow servant and Ghost of Christmas Present, and I met performing in Christmas Carol in Tampa Fl. in 1991. To keep me on my toes our director and playwright, Julian Wiles, has re-written a lot of my dialogue so I have lots of new things to add. I think he may have done that to keep me busy so I didn’t try to help him direct. It worked, most of the time…
Come celebrate the season with us and see the beautiful Dock Street Theatre decked out for the holidays.
Brian J. Porter as Ebenezer Scrooge and Marybeth Clark as Ghost of Christmas Past.
More than 30 young actors take the stage in key roles in A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. “All of the young performers in these two productions come from Charleston Stage’s Education Programs,” says Marybeth Clark, Associate Artistic Director of Charleston Stage and Director of Education. “Most have had several years of classes in acting, singing and dancing and all audition and were accepted into one of Charleston Stage’s Performance Troupes.” These troupes (Theatricals for grades 4-5 and KidStage for grades 6-8) meet in weekly workshops to further develop their acting talents. Each August members of these performance troupes are asked to audition for Charleston Stage’s MainStage and family productions. Two of this year’s performers are indicative of the dedication, hard work and talent of all 45 members of these Troupes. Josh McCoy who is playing Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol has been in the Theatricals Performance Troupe for two years and played Ignorance in last year’s production. “Acting is really magical,” says Josh. “Getting to be on stage, knowing you are going to bring a smile or joy to someone because of what you do is why I love acting.” Josh is 11-years-old and is home schooled.
Nine year old Alexandra Key plays the part of Gladys Herdman in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever and is already a seasoned pro having performed in two SummerStage musicals. “I love playing Gladys and being a part of a great cast in a funny play,” says Alexandra. “Performing at Dock Street Theatre feels magical.” Alexandra has been taking classes with Charleston Stage for 3 years and has been a member of the Theatricals Performance Troupe for one year. Alexandra is a 4th grader at Ashley Hall.
Josh McCoy as Tiny Tim and Brian J. Porter as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas.
Alexandra Key as Gladys Herdman in The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.
Though this is Charleston Stage’s 18th Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas, we always treat this show as if it’s one we’ve never done before. This year there are new scenic pieces, scores of new costumes, we’ll have strolling musicians on stage and there are even some new lines here and there. Of course we don’t change everything (we always keep Scrooge and Tiny Tim) but each year we look for new elements to discover and explore. This year, only one cast member is reprising a role they’ve done before and most of the cast are completely new to A Christmas Carol. Our Scrooge, Brian Porter had never even seen another production of A Christmas Carol. This has made rehearsals this year especially delightful as actors rediscovered in a new light all of these beloved characters. Walking in the shoes of these characters for the first time they’ve found new takes on these familiar faces.
And what characters these are! Dickens’s A Christmas Carol has lasted all these years (his other five Christmas books are largely forgotten) because his characters are all too human. He recognized their humanity and all their failings but also their potential for change. He shows us that if an “odious, stingy old sinner” like Ebenezer Scrooge can learn to embrace his fellow man with generosity, perhaps there’s hope for the rest of us! The belief that a new day can dawn for each us, that even in the depths of desperation and despair there is always a glimmer of hope, is a theme that runs through many of Dickens’s books and none more so than in A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas.
And so a new production of A Christmas Carol, A Ghost Story of Christmas dawns this year, a production made even more special by its return to the beautifully restored Dock Street Theatre. Now you will once more be close to the action—so close that I have no doubt you will bask in the warm glow of this timeless story. Merry Christmas!
Brian J. Porter as Ebenezer Scrooge and Gabriel Wright as Jacob Marley.