Theatre-goers in Halifax are likely more than familiar with Jeremy Webb. The multi-disciplinary thespian has been a mainstay on local and regional stages for more than a decade. Each holiday season, Webb performs a one-man take on Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Starting this weekend, he brings Scrooge & Co. to a variety of venues across the Atlantic region, Recently AE spoke with Webb about his annual role.
AE: How long have you lived in Halifax?JW: I moved to Halifax back in 1998 from the UK. I was cast in two summer shows at Neptune Theatre (Blood Brothers and Rumors) and was lucky enough to step off the plane, into work and into a great new life in Atlantic Canada. Haven't really wanted to leave since!
AE: What do you like best about living and working here?JW: I find the city to be exactly the right size for me, the pace of life is great, the ocean is close by and the arts community is so supportive and creative. I love being part of the professional theatre scene here. My career and, now my personal life, have thrived in this place and I am so grateful for that.
AE: How long have you been performing your A Christmas Carol?JW: I first created the show back in 2003 and have been doing it ever since. We have toured it (2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and this year), we have rented the Neptune Studio for the month of December (back in 2005) and I never get tired of doing it.
AE: What are the challenges of the role?JW: Mainly it's the size of the show. I am alone on stage for 85 minutes, performing multiple characters. It's a cardio workout and an acting mountain to climb. I am a sweaty heap by the end!
AE: What are the rewards?JW: Like any mountain that someone climbs it's mainly being able to look back and say 'I did that!' The audience reaction has been so rewarding. To have repeat customers that look for it every year is a big compliment. We have performed the show now for over 200,000 people.
AE: Why do you think that the production has been so popular?JW: It's a no-brainer to a lot of people because they know what they are coming to see: the story of Scrooge. It's just how it's told that is a little unusual. The production is very traditional, with period sets, costumes and props but it's also very irreverent with lots of crazy shennanigans. People like that stuff!
AE: How has the show evolved since last year?JW: Every year we have done the show we try and add new material, new gags and a new section. Last year we had the privilege of the Symphony Nova Scotia music, composed by Scott MacMillan. This year we are adding in projections...something a little high tech to enhance a most traditional story.
AE: What can audiences expect this year?JW: As always, audiences can expect the traditional, family-friendly show - full of wonder - with lots of gags for the adults. We are always trying to best ourselves.
AE: Is it still fun to perform?JW: I am amazed that I have now been doing this show since 2003 and still find it a fun piece to do. That's nearly ten years!! We'd better find some way of celebrating next year...it'll be ten years since I first put on those Scrooge specs!
AE: What is your favourite part of the performance?JW: As an actor, it's when Scrooge goes back into his tragic past - that's a challenge and very rewarding. As a comedian, it's the audience participation element - such fun to break that 'fourth wall' and include the crowd.
AE: Will you continue to perform the role each Christmas season?JW: I am hoping so. I figure I can keep going until I am too old. Scrooge is an old fella, so I figure I've got another 20 years! I may not bore people every year, but maybe try and take it to other centres and new audiences.
AE: How is fatherhood treating you?JW: It's great. As long as my knees hold out! Baby Samuel is amazing and this year will be his first Christmas. It'll be a couple of years before he can watch the show, but that will be a wondrous time.