Ebenezer Ever After is a new holiday entertainment option
Portland theatergoers have a new option for holiday entertainment thanks to Lake Oswego residents Don Flowers, Fred Walton and Kirk Mouser. Stumptown Stages' production of the original holiday musical, 'Ebenezer Ever After,' opens Saturday in the Brunish Theater at Portland Center for the Performing Arts, 1114 S.W. Broadway in Portland.
Flowers and Walton co-wrote the book and lyrics, based on Flowers' unpublished novel, 'The Spirit of the Season.'
The men met 20-plus years ago when their sons played soccer together at Hallinan. Flowers was a copy writer/creative director for ad agencies in Los Angeles and Portland, and pursued creative writing projects in his spare time. Walton had a successful career as a Hollywood writer/director for more than 20 years before moving to Portland and joining Northwest Classical Theatre Company as associate artistic director. His former screen credits include co-writing and directing the original, 'When a Stranger Calls,' among other films and TV dramas in the suspense/action genre.
Flowers asked Walton to take a look at an early draft of 'The Spirit of the Season' and see if he could generate any interest in Los Angeles.
'I really liked the idea a lot,' said Walton. 'But nobody in L.A. was interested in it.' Years later, he asked Flowers if he still had the manuscript. His suggestion: 'Let's do it as a musical!' And so 'Ebenezer Ever After' was born.
'Ebenezer' is a sequel to Charles Dickens' holiday classic, 'A Christmas Carol.' At the end of 'A Christmas Carol,' everyone is happy with the exception of Scrooge's partner Jacob Marley, who was responsible for Scrooge getting an opportunity to redeem his life.
'It's 20 years later,' said Flowers. 'Scrooge is a great guy and all is going well except for one thing: Marley never got the chance Scrooge had to change. Scrooge wants to contact him in someway to redeem him.'
Flowers, whom Walton regards as a Dickens scholar, said the musical is respectful of the Elizabethan language used by Dickens in the original story and follows the same serious tone.
And from Walton's success in the horror genre, he is very aware of music's role in drama.
'Horror relies on music,' he said. 'It enriches a scene a whole lot.' He wrote the music with credit for two songs going to Flowers' son, Phil Flowers.
The musical made its debut last Christmas when Stumptown Stages presented it at Theater! Theater! Now, moved to Portland's Broadway, Mouser has reconceived the production and is using a smaller cast, with each actor playing multiple roles.
'It's really challenging for the actors,' said Walton. 'And gives the audience 'ah-ha' moments when they realize that they just saw this actor playing another part.'
Both Flowers and Walton are enthused about the talent involved and the support the production is receiving from the community.
'When you spend 20-plus years in L.A. working at the highest production level with the highest talent (it's easy) to take the attitude that all the talent is in L.A. or New York,' said Walton. 'There is lots of really good talent in Portland and you have to assume there's lots of talent in cities all across the country.' And a lot of that talent is heading to Portland.
The cast includes Doren Elias as Ebenezer Scrooge, Matthew Belles as Tim Cratchit, Don Stewart Burns as the aarrator, Margie Boule as Mrs. Fezziwig, Tony Stroh as Mr. Fezziwig, Genevieve Andersen as Rose, Kirk Mouser as Ezekiel Scrooge, David Cole as Jacob Marley, Barbara Hollcraft as Lady Edgemont, Brittany Kane as Fan and Adam Elliott Davis as Simon.
Mouser is Stumptown Stages's executive artistic director.
Performances of 'Ebenezer Ever After' are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday through Dec. 24 with additional performances on Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 18 and 24 at 2 p.m.
Tickets are $10 to $30 online through Ticketmaster, by calling 1-800-982-2787 or purchased in person at the door.