By Kerri Bartlett, Assistant Editor
Mark Price’s beard is now long and wiry enough for his role as Ebenezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. He has been growing his period-piece, Victorian facial addition for about three months in preparation for his role at Dickens of a Christmas on Main Street in downtown Franklin, Dec. 14-15.
“I stay in character all day,” Price said. “I tell my friends and everyone that I know that when I see them, I will be Scrooge.
Price, 53, has been playing the role for about eight years.
“I look at least ten years older with the beard.” It takes him about 30 minutes to tease it as he transforms into Scrooge.
Then, Price dresses in his authentic Victorian costume with period pieces collected over the years, including a pocket watch, top hat, vest, wool frock coat with a furry lapel and a gold handled-cane.
As Scrooge, Price interacts with passersby on Main Street and recites lines from Dickens’ famous work, which he has been practicing around the house with a British accent for weeks. He also reads the story a few weeks before the event to help him morph into the role.
A most cantankerous character, Price, or Scrooge, gripes at passersby, tells Bob Cratchit to get back to work and generally seems quite grumpy about everything going on at the event. And of course, there’s the classic Christmas exclamation of discontent, “Bah Humbug!”
“I make at least one child cry per year,” he said. “It’s just a part of it.” However, the grumpy miser’s cranky ways delight most in attendance.
Price said that children try to convince him to enjoy Christmas, adults want to take photos and some come two days in a row to see his transformation from bitter miser on Saturday to joyful holiday-loving fellow on Sunday.
On the contrary, Price’s day job during the rest of the year is quite pleasant as reverend of Christ United Methodist Church in Franklin, where he has been preaching for the past four years. His 25 years in the ministry has taken him from North Carolina to Washington D.C. and finally to Franklin in 1999.
However what has prepared Price for the role as Scrooge is his experience in drama for most of his life. He acted in plays in high school and college and performed in The Pirates of Penzance and Oliver! at Pull Tight Theater. He also majored in English literature in college. And it is no surprise that Dickens claimed the spot as his favorite author.
Scrooge is not the only character that Price plays. He also entertains children at parties in his Pirates of Penzance costume if asked.
Other characters from Dickens’ stories will also be present. Passersby might see the Cratchit family strolling down the streets with Tiny Tim. Alan and Carla Corry of the Carter House will play the Cratchits, while their son will play Peter Cratchit and their daughter will play an Oliver Twist character.
Ghosts of Christmas Past and Future will make regular appearances. Urchins under the direction of the nefarious Fagin from Dickens’ Oliver will pester English Bobbies (actually Franklin Police Officers on duty in costume), while Father and Mother Christmas delight children.
This 29th annual community event will be from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.
“One of the best Dickens I remember is about three years ago when it snowed. It was a wonderful memory, and everyone was in the spirit,” Price said.
He’s hoping that the weather won’t be quite as cold this year. “I usually wear multiple pairs of socks,” Price said. “This year, it will definitely be two.”
Photos by Christopher Corry
Dickens Characters: Fagin, Artful Dodgier, Mrs. Cratchit, Bob Cratchit & Scrooge.
Photo by Christopher Corry
Ashely Wise & Daniela Corry with the Ghost of Jacob Marley
Posted on: 12/12/2013