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An Exciting Transformation of A Classic Christmas Tale

Updated: Dec 20, 2019

The following comes from Artistic Director Matthew McIver.

2019, Photo by Joe Crimmings

I first met Jay Jagim in the summer of 2009, at the Des Moines Social Club's original location at 1408 Locust Street. Jay and Richard Maynard had come to discuss Repertory Theatre of Iowa's first production of A Christmas Carol, in an adaption by Larry Carpenter. Richard had played Crachit in the early days of that adaption, in the 1980's at Merrimack Repertory Theater in Massachusetts. That meeting was the beginning of the central Iowa holiday tradition, not only for RTI's audiences but also for me.

Jay Jagim had designed two prior productions of A Christmas Carol, and assembled that first set out of $300 of material and sheer artistic genius. It was designed to last one year, and instead served for seven productions over the next ten years. I ultimately directed five of those, all with Richard Maynard as Scrooge.

2014, "A Christmas Carol"

Dickens' most famous story is a holiday classic because it combines so many of the elements of brilliant storytelling: striking characters, emotional transformation, enormous stakes and a bit of magic. When ISTC was planning our move to the Stoner Theater of DMPA, we saw an opportunity to reinvent the classic, to find a new adaption that would thrill audiences afresh with the story they had come to love.

We assembled a committee that included Richard, Donna Scafe who had played Christmas Past, Tom Geraty (a veteran Marley), and RAC member Kim Grimaldi. We read a number of creative adaptations, but one stood out as exciting, but probably too big a show to fit into the intimate Stoner Theater; Michael Wilson's adaption, A Christmas Carol: A Ghost Story of Christmas.

Wilson had developed his take thirty years ago at the Alley Theater in Houston, one of America's great regional theaters. He developed it with Alley's resident scenic designer, one Jay Michael Jagim. When we took this script to Jay for his thoughts, he felt it could be successful in our new home. And with its swift pace, exciting street life and plenty of magic, we are excited to share it with you.

We are excited to bring a new, thrilling version of the holiday classic to central Iowa, in an adaption never before seen here. The history of A Christmas Carol is one of unbroken delight going back 176 years, and it is a joy to be able to bring a new life to this holiday tradition.

For more background on how A Christmas Carol has helped shape Iowa Stage Theatre, listen to our Iowa Stages podcast featuring Jay Jagim and Richard Maynard, available on the following platforms:

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