The hugely popular re-imagining of Charles Dickens’ festive staple A Christmas Carol, starring Simon Callow and directed by Tom Cairns, will return to the Arts Theatre in London for a strictly limited season from 8 December to 7 January, with press night on Thursday 15 December.
Based on Dickens’ own performance of the novel, Simon Callow and director-designer Tom Cairns have created a critically acclaimed, one-man storytelling that is both heart-warming and deeply moving. With sell-out seasons in 2011 and 2012, A Christmas Carol, with Simon Callow, has become a well-loved adaptation for the Christmas season.
As the ghosts spirit Scrooge from the present to his past and future, Dickens takes us on a magical journey from the miser’s dank and creaking house to cosy hearths, and from snowy graveyards to joyful festivities. This treasured story offers a celebration of goodness, a plea for justice and the promise of redemption.
One of the nation’s best loved stage and screen actors, Simon Callow steps back into Charles Dickens’ shoes following previous performances as the author in the stage productions The Mystery of Charles Dickens at the Playhouse Theatre, Dr Marigold & Mr Chops at Riverside Studios, the film Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale, on television in the BBC’s An Audience with Charles Dickens, and Doctor Who in 2005 and 2011. Callow has even written two books about the author, Dickens’ Christmas in 2003 and Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World in 2012.
The enduring popularity of A Christmas Carol, both as a novel and on stage, is testament to a story that transcends centuries, and has never been out of print. Within two months of its original publication in 1843, eight stage productions were known to have been mounted, and Dickens himself chose the story to perform not only at his first public reading in 1853, but also at his farewell performance in 1869.
A Christmas Carol is produced by Assembly Festival and Riverside Studios, directed and designed by Tom Cairns, with sound design by Ben and Max Ringham.
Simon Callow went to work in the Box Office of Sir Laurence Olivier’s Old Vic Theatre in 1967, subsequently training at the Drama Centre until 1973, when he left for his fisrt job as the front end of a horse in Büchner’s Woyzeck at the Edinburgh Festival. He then played in repertory at Lincoln, and with the Young Lyceum and Traverse Theatre Companies in Edinburgh. His first West End appearance was in 1975 opposite Harry Secombe in The Plumber’s Progress; later that year, he worked for Gay Sweatshop. He then joined Joint Stock Theatre Company for two years, played Titus Andronicus at the Bristol Old Vic, Arturo Ui at the Half Moon Theatre and Eddie in Mary Barnes at the Royal Court, before joining the National Theatre to create the part of Mozart in Amadeus and perform all of Shakespeare’s Sonnets. He has since worked at the Royal Court Theatre, the National Theatre, the Bush Theatre, Southwark Playhouse and in many West End theatres.
Callow has toured extensively, an activity about which he is passionate. In 1988, he played Faust in both parts of Goethe’s play at the Lyric Hammersmith; in 1997, he acted in The Importance of Being Oscar, following this in 2000 with The Mystery of Charles Dickens, which he played for four years in Britain, Ireland, America (New York and Chicago) and Australia (Sydney and Melbourne); in 2005 he acted in The Holy Terror by Simon Gray. Callow has appeared in The Woman in White and, for the RSC, Merry Wives: the Musical. In 2008, he played Captain Hook in Peter Pan in which he made his entrance singing Michael Jackson’s Bad.
In 2009, he played Pozzo in Waiting for Godot with Ian McKellen, Ronald Pickup and Patrick Stewart at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. In Christmas 2009, he played two unknown one-man plays by Charles Dickens, Mr Chops and Dr Marigold at the Riverside Studios, and in 2010 played his one-man show about Shakespeare, The Man from Stratford across the British Isles and in Trieste; in 2011 and in 2012 he did highly successful seasons of Being Shakespeare, a revised version of The Man from Stratford, in the West End.
Callow gave the English language première of Emmanuel Darley’s Tuesday at Tesco’s, at the Edinburgh Festival in 2011, which won a Fringe First Award and the Glasgow Herald’s Archangel. At Christmas in 2011 and 2012, he gave an acclaimed performance in his one-man version of A Christmas Carol. In 2013 he performed in the world premiere of Matthew Hurt’s play The Man Jesus at the Lyric Theatre Belfast, and performed his own one-man play Inside Wagner’s Head in the Linbury Studio at the Royal Opera House, after which he acted with Felicity Kendal in a tour of Chin-Chin. Last year he appeared in Tuesday at Tesco’s off-Broadway.
His films include Amadeus, A Room with A View, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Thunderpants and The Phantom of the Opera. His latest films, soon to be released, are Hampstead, The Vieroy’s House, and Victoria and Abdul. He has directed over thirty plays, musicals and operas, including the original West End production of Shirley Valentine, the première of Single Spies at the National Theatre, Les Enfants du Paradis at the RSC, Carmen Jones at the Old Vic, Die Fledermaus for Scottish Opera, Jus’ Like That at the Garrick and, most recently, The Magic Flute at Holland Park Opera, with designs by Tom Phillips. He directed the film of The Ballad of the Sad Café, starring Vanessa Redgrave, Keith Carradine and Rod Steiger, in 1990.
He has also written thirteen books, including Being an Actor, Shooting the Actor, and Love is Where it Falls, as well as biographies of Oscar Wilde, Charles Laughton and the first three volumes of a life of Orson Welles, with Dickens’s Christmas recently having been reissued. His most recent books are: My Life in Pieces, which won the Sheridan Morley Theatre Biography Award; Charles Dickens and the Great Theatre of the World; and Being Wagner, which will appear in Jan 2017.
Callow was appointed C.B.E in 1999 and is an honorary doctor of Queen’s University Belfast, Birmingham University, the Open University, and Kingston University, as well a Fellow of the University of the Arts London. In 2014 he was made a Freeman of the City of London.