Another visit with Christmas past, present and future

By Kevin Zimmerman

Before diving into a new role, Astoria-based actor Marc LeVasseur always follows some advice given to him by an actor friend.

LeVasseur must figure out if the opportunity provides enough money, a good part to play and a supportive group of people with whom to work.

“If you have two out of the three, you should take it,” LeVasseur said.

Titan Theatre Co.’s “A Christmas Carol” apparently makes the cut, as LeVasseur steps into the role of everybody’s favorite put-upon clerk, Bob Crachit, beginning Dec. 4.

“He is the heart of the show,” LeVasseur said. “He is so well-intentioned, open and loving.”

LeVasseur just finished playing the title character in Titan’s last show, “The Importance of Being Earnest,” and jumped at the chance to be in this new version of the Charles Dickens’ holiday classic.

“This is my first ‘Christmas Carol.’ It is such an uplifting show,” LeVesseur said. “I love Dickens in general, and I love this cast of people.”

Titan first produced a version of this show last year during its inaugural season as the Queens Theatre’s resident acting company. The production, adapted by Titan’s Artistic Director Lenny Banovez and Emily Trask, the group’s dramaturg, played the main stage in 2014, but it heads downstairs to the studio theater this time around.

“We are really excited to be in the more intimate space, where the emphasis will be on the magic of storytelling,” Banovez said. “The intimacy is really exciting to me.”

Besides a different performance space, this year’s “A Christmas Carol” packs in a few new parts to help keep the show fresh, Banovez said.

Titan’s goal was to produce something that would become a Queens holiday tradition, Banovez said. But he wants to make sure it is anticipated each year and never becomes like the often given, but rarely appreciated, Christmas fruit cake.

“We don’t want it to be recycled,” he said. “There are some surprises, like new costumes, and 40 percent of the cast is new. That helps bring new energy to it.”

Michael Selkirk is not new to Titan or even its “A Christmas Carol”—he pulled double duty last year as the Ghost of Christmas Present and Mr. Fezziwig—and for this version takes on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.

“When Lenny called, I said I would be thrilled to do the part,” Selkirk said.

While the two jovial characters of Fezziwig and Christmas Present allowed Selkirk to bring numerous light moments to last year’s production, playing Scrooge provides him with the chance to lead a character on a long journey of redemption.

It can be a challenge, Selkirk said, but one that he is ready to take on.

“As an actor you have to search for truth in every moment. If your choice is not grounded in the text, you should discard it,” Selkirk said. “Lenny is very good at keeping it real.”

Banovez also does a good job getting the group of young actors who play the Cratchit children to deliver honest performances.

Rego Park’s Sophia Fiallo, 12, is another return cast member, reprising her role as Grubbin, the young boy who Scrooge sends to purchase the giant Christmas goose after his redemption. She alternates the part with another young castmate, Moore Theobold.

Early in the show, Grubbin pops into Scrooge’s office to offer a carol in exchange for a coin. He is quickly shown the door.

Although Sophia continues to land acting jobs—she was in “Oliver!” back in 2013 and will play the narrator from “Into the Woods” next spring—she does not think she will pursue acting as a career.

“I do it mostly for fun,” she said. “The hardest part is going up there and doing it. I have a moment of stage fright, then I’m fine.”

If you Go

“A Christmas Carol”

When: Dec. 4 – Dec. 20

Where: Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Ave. South, Flushing Meadows Corona Park

Cost: $18

Contact: (718) 760-0064

Website: www.titantheatrecompany.com

Reach News Editor Kevin Zimmerman by e-mail at kzimmerman@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4541.