Mike Reinhart, director and performer in M&M Productions' "Scrooge," admittedly didn't seek out the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, which he has performed in productions going back more than three decades.
"I had to do the part because my dad was doing a choir production of it, and the kid that he had to play Scrooge had come down with mono two weeks before the show," he recalled. "My dad asked me 'Can you memorize all of this in two weeks?' And back then I could. I don't know if I could do it now."
Opening Friday and running through Dec. 3 at Merrillville's Reinhart Auditorium, "Scrooge" is the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, an elderly miser in 19th Century England who is visited by the ghosts of Christmases Past, Present and Future on Christmas Eve in an effort to save the curmudgeon's soul from eternal damnation.
Based on the Charles Dickens novel "A Christmas Carol," Scrooge" is heavily influenced by a 1970 movie adaptation, which starred Albert Finney as Scrooge and Alec Guinness as the ghost of Jacob Marley. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Original Song Score.
The musical, which includes songs such as "Make the Most of the World," "The Milk of Human kindness" and "Thank You Very Much" was first staged in England in 1992 and also enjoyed a successful run at Chicago's Oriental Theatre in 2004.
M&M Productions first brought "Scrooge" to the stage in 1982. Reinhart assumes the role of Scrooge in his production of the musical this year.
"It's been 21 sets of performances (as Scrooge)," he said, "and over 150 performances ... but we try to add something new every year so it's always a different show."
Reinhart is leading a cast and crew of more than 100 talented and skillful people of all ages. For many, joining Reinhart on both sides of the stage has become part and parcel for the holidays.
"For a lot of people, that's how they start off their Christmas season, doing 'Scrooge,'" Reinhart said.
FYI: "Scrooge" runs at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Dec. 1 and 2 and 3 p.m. Dec. 3 at Reinhart Auditorium, 276 E. 68th Pl., Merrillville. Tickets are $10 for adults, $9 for students and seniors, $8 for children 12 and younger (in advance, $2 additional day of show). Call 219-947-4922 or visit M-MPRODUCTIONS.COM