Scrooge gets his day in court, but not in Aspen courtroom
December 11, 2010
ASPEN – A request to stage a sequel to the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol,” in a Pitkin County courtroom this holiday season earned a proverbial “Bah, humbug!” from county commissioners this week.
Commissioners nixed a proposal from the Pegasus Repertory Theatre to stage the Colorado premiere of “The Trial of Ebeneezer Scrooge” in the county’s district courtroom, though it would provide the perfect setting for the production, according to David Ledingham, co-artistic director of the theater company.
The entire play takes place in a courtroom; actors would occupy the tables for the prosecution and defense, the witness stand and the judge’s bench, while the audience would watch the comedic farce unfold from the public seating area.
Nonethless, Ledingham had doubts that commissioners would go for the plan, though Judge James Boyd was apparently amenable.
“I didn’t have high hopes, but it was a great idea,” said Ledingham, who will play Scrooge in the production.
The show will go on – in the nearby Rio Grande commons on the third floor of the former youth center building, off Galena Plaza.
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“I think it would be a cute setting,” said Commissioner George Newman of the courtroom, “but it’s not like you couldn’t recreate it elsewhere.”
Commissioners mulled the cost of cleaning the room after each evening performance, overtime pay for a deputy’s presence and the 60-person capacity of the room, but in the end, it was the protecting the sanctity of the courtroom that appeared to sway their decision to reject the request.
“It’s a very special place, but it’s reserved for a very special use,” said Commissioner Michael Owsley. “I just don’t see it as interchangeable for entertainment.”
The theater group was hoping to use the courtroom for a Dec. 19 rehearsal and free performances on Dec. 20 and 23. The play is set in a London courthouse where Scrooge, a year after his Christmas epiphany, is suing the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future for harassment.
The play will be read by a combination of actors from Los Angeles and the Aspen area, and directed by Ledingham.
The actors will bring scripts and “a suggestion” of a costume, but there will be no set pieces or special lighting, which made the actual courtroom a perfect choice as a venue, Ledingham said.
He said his goal is to give the production a trial run this year with the aim of staging it at the Wheeler Opera House next year.
Pegasus Repertory Theatre, also co-directed by Donald Mackay, has put on the theatrical Fringe Festival in Aspen for the past two years.