Thames Nolan wants his Scrooge to stand alone.
The Auburn actor will portray the miserly misanthrope in "Scrooge: The Musical" beginning Dec. 8 at Auburn Public Theater. A coproduction of APT, Auburn Players Community Theatre and Harlequin Productions at Cayuga Community College, the show debuted last year under the direction of Bill Daugherty. It returns Dec. 8 with Daugherty in the chair and several performers in the same roles.
Except Nolan. He succeeds Bob Miller as the musical's titular subject, whose visitation by a series of ghosts on Christmas Eve leads him to reconsider his selfish ways.
Nolan, a veteran of the Merry-Go-Round Youth Theatre and Sterling Renaissance Festival, first auditioned for Ebenezer Scrooge in last year's production, he said. He was relieved when Miller got the part, as Nolan's work selling life insurance would have prevented him from investing the necessary time into the show's lead role. However, his work calmed down this year, so "I figured I'd go for it."
The show's songs have been the biggest challenge for Nolan, he said, but Daugherty and musical director Kristan Sheppard have coached him well. When it comes to performing as Scrooge, though, Nolan hasn't sought any such guidance: Since his casting, he has avoided watching any of the several adaptations of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol."
"I have memories of the different portrayals, but when it came time to do this, I tried not to look at them," he said. "I don't want to be influenced into doing something that really isn't my own."
Nolan said his performance as Scrooge will be one of the biggest differences from last year's musical. Miller, meanwhile, will portray Jacob Marley, which was one of Nolan's roles last year. The other, Mr. Fezziwig, will be portrayed by Jim Byrne. Nolan called Miller "quite frightening" as Scrooge's spectral former partner, and Byrne "so energetic" as his jovial mentor.
Most of the rest of the cast of 43 will be returning performers, Nolan said, many of whom he's acted with in other Auburn Players productions like "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "The Sound of Music." One fellow cast member he's particularly excited to share the stage with is his son, Tristan, who will portray Hugo Harty and Topper.
Nolan recalled "Scrooge: The Musical" selling out most of its first run of shows, and he hopes it continues to be a holiday tradition in downtown Auburn.
"It's challenging — probably the most challenging thing I've ever done, theater-wise," he said. "Everyone's dedicated to doing the best job they can possibly do. It's challenging, but fun."
Like a holiday family gathering, three Auburn theater groups will team to present a classic Christmas tale in the heart of the city this season.