Colin McCredie says 'Bah Humbug!'

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Christmas just isn't Christmas without Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol'.

Dickens may not have actually invented Christmas as 2017 film 'The Man Who Invented Christmas' claimed but he can certainly be credited with introducing or popularising some of our favourite elements of this yuletide holiday.

So the Small City team was full of festive cheer upon finding out that this Christmas Pitlochry Festival Theatre are staging a bright, bold new adaptation of this ghostly tale of a curmudgeons redemption adapted by Isobel McArthur from 'Monarch of the Glen'.

Christmas just isn't Christmas without Charles Dickens 'A Christmas Carol'.

Ebenezer Scrooge, a Freudian figure wrestling with his past, is the central focus of the story so it was important to get the casting just right. That's were Colin McCredie comes in. Arguably the greatest ever Scrooge was Alistair Sim (he actually played the famous miser twice, on film in 1951 but also 20 years later in an animated short) so it made sense that another Scottish actor be given a shot at the role.

Colin McCredie is a very familiar face on British television having played D.C. Fraser in over 75 episodes of the brilliant Scottish police drama 'Taggart'. He's since starred in 'River City' and made appearances in 'Outlander' and 'Doctor Finlay'. Film fans may also remember him as the put upon Cameron from Danny Boyles 'Shallow Grave'.

Even if you never go to the cinema or don't have a tv license you may have seen the Perth born actor at McDiarmid park cheering on his favourite team St. Johnstone.  

Colin McCredie PFT - Scrooge Rehearsal

With rehearsals for 'A Christmas Carol' well underway Colin took some time out of his hectic schedule to talk to us about his role as Ebenezer Scrooge. How did he channel his inner Scrooge, we wondered.

"I remember my dad reading it to me one Christmas, maybe when I was about 7 or 8, reading it in bed and I can still see the images from that of the door knocker and Marley with the handkerchief around his head. Then a few years back I read it to my daughter when she was about the same age. It’s just one of these iconic parts isn’t it?”

Colin recalled how he felt when he was first offered the part. He laughs, "I thought I was obviously too young, too kind, too generous, too nice!"  He tells how he finally found his way into the part.

"There’s an amazing journey, and the change in the character, that brought me to it. What’s so interesting is the way it’s not age that makes you miserable, but circumstances. And you can look at some of our politicians who, are maybe not very nice at the moment, and maybe look a lot older than they probably are."

Colin recalled how he felt when he was first offered the part: "I thought I was obviously too young, too kind, too generous, too nice!" 

"In this adaptation Scrooge isn’t necessarily vindictively bad; he has got an answer for everything and a justification. He’s not just a two-dimensional baddie: he’s actually clever and thought-through with his views."

'A Christmas Carol' has now been on stage and screen more time than I've had Christmas dinners, I ask Colin what he thinks will make Pitlochry Festival Theatres production stand out.

"Not only that it has amazing music, but it has a full, live, 7-piece, incredibly talented group of actor-musicians (not including me!). There are Carols that date back to the actual time, and then there are Christmas songs from the 50s and 60s - Christmas standards that are modern versions: so from 'In The Bleak Midwinter' to 'Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree': some are very much sung chorally and some are big, marching band songs. Yes, everyone will know all the songs."

"The music’s brilliant! And, as it would have in Dickens’ time, Isobel’s script begins in the present time - our present time - which makes it really relevant, but Scrooge is very much Victorian. So it’s got that fully traditional feel, but also makes issues fully recognisable too."

When Colin moved to Perth as a youngster, he lived opposite renowned actor Martyn James. "I knew him from when I was just three years old, Martyn went on to become this legend in Pitlochry and it’s so nice to come here and see the way that he’s remembered. I didn’t realise there was a dressing room named after him!" Colin describes what Pitlochry means to him and what brought him to the Pitlochry Festival Theatre.

Colin McCredie PFT - Scrooge looking disdainfully at a brass band

"My dad and his family came from Pitlochry. It’s a place I was always brought as a child to go to the amusements, to the putting green and walk over the bridge, and not long before they closed I took my kids to the amusements too, so it’s lovely to get a chance to come and work here.”

"I think it’s probably the only theatre I’ve never played in Scotland bizarrely. But in the last year, since Elizabeth Newman took over, I just could feel there were seismic changes happening. Any articles I’d read, or things I could see in social media, she just seemed to be saying everything that I felt about, not only Pitlochry, but Scottish Theatre, and making Pitlochry the middle of it, trying to use more Scottish based actors. And it’s such a beautiful place to be: the facilities, great rehearsal rooms, great theatre, there’s just such a great buzz about the place."

A Christmas Carol runs until 23rd December. To get your tickets call the Box Office on 01796 484626 or visit the Pitlochry Festival Theatre Website.

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