Rhinelander local reprises role as Scrooge
Shidell, like Scrooge, travels through time to reappear in A Christmas Carol at Nicolet College
Courtesy of Nicolet College
Thirteen years ago Jerry Shidell stepped onto the Nicolet College Theatre stage to play the role of Scrooge in the popular holiday classic A Christmas Carol.
In December, he’ll do it again – seemingly traveling through time like his character – as the Nicolet Players bring back the Charles Dickens classic.
“Without a doubt, Scrooge is one of my favorite characters that I’ve ever played,” said Shidell, who has been in well over 20 different plays in his 30-plus years involved in community theater.
“Scrooge is very complex. There are so many sides to him and he changes so much from the beginning of the play to the end. The biggest challenge is to ever so gradually change Scrooge’s temperament as the play goes on.”
Adding to that is the fact that he’ll have to interact with 26 other actors – the largest cast in Nicolet Players history – over the duration of each performance.
“It’s a challenge, but a very fun challenge,” he said. “While I was in the play before, it’s almost an entirely new cast. There’s only one other person who was in the first production. Everyone has their own idiosyncrasies that they bring to their parts, so it’s all a matter of figuring out how to interact with each other, to feed off each other, to really bring out the character we are playing.”
To accomplish that takes practice. And more practice. Then even more practice.
Shidell attends rehearsals five days a week for about two to three hours each day. He said he also spends about just as much time at home running through his lines, often with his wife Julie.
He said it helps immensely that he was in the previous production which made relearning his lines easier. This time around he’s concentrating more on the nuances of delivery to add a greater degree of depth to the character. For hours he’ll watch a tape of his 2002 performance to get ideas on ways to improve and bring these ideas to rehearsal.
“The director Jim Nuttall is a master at bringing out the best in amateur actors,” Shidell said. “We’ll work through these ideas and keep the ones that work and drop the ones that don’t. It’s a lot of fun to refine a character like that.”
Shidell also had high praise for Nuttall’s set design and ability to create an “alternate world” on a relatively small stage.
“I think the audience is really going to marvel at the set,” Shidell said. “It really takes you back to London in the 1800s.”
Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday Dec. 3 to 5, and again Dec. 10 to 12, and at 2 p.m. on Sundays Dec. 6 and 13.