Actor and director Gary Sefton returns to Brighton this Christmas with A Christmas Carol, the show which launched his company TRUESTORY two years ago.
“The whole thing came about by accident really,” says Gary who will be playing Scrooge. “I did a really large production of it in Northampton, all singing, all dancing. I wasn’t in it. I just directed it. That was a few years ago, maybe six or seven years. It was really successful, and I just felt that I really got to know the piece and understand it.
“And then the St James Theatre in London asked me if I knew a Christmas show that I could put on in 45 minutes. I thought ‘Well, you can’t go wrong with A Christmas Carol’, and I thought, yes, I could do it in 45 minutes. I ended up writing a new version, and that went very well too.
“And then I was rehearsing in The Spire in Brighton, something disconnected with A Christmas Carol, and I was thinking ‘This space is amazing.’
“I thought we should put something on here, and I have got three children of my own, and I was thinking that there is a lack in Brighton, that there is not really a good family show in Brighton, no really good-quality family Christmas shows, especially now the Theatre Royal doesn’t do pantos any more.
“I felt there was a gap to put on something like that, and it seemed to me that A Christmas Carol was the perfect thing to do. People know me for the big productions that I do, but I tend to do them miles away from where I live.
“And there was this big empty church, and it seemed to me that A Christmas Carol would go in there very nicely.”
And it did.
“We had a massive hit two years ago. It is such a fantastic atmospheric space, and you have got Dickens’ words and your work is 80 per cent done. All you have got to do is not fall over!”
As for the magic of the story: “For me, I think it is a chance to take stock of the moment and to think about humanity. Christmas is a time to come together.
“You see this old man looking back over his life and the mistakes he has made and the changes he can still make. I do think it affects people. Even if it just affects you for half an hour, it makes you think ‘How have I been this year?’
“And I think that is very moving.
“It is not just about the money. I think it goes much deeper than just him being tight-fisted. He loses the love of his life which is what I think the story is really about. He has a chance of love and he throws it away. He then looks at families that are struggling and he realises he can help. I think it is a very humbling story.
“A Christmas Carol’s message about the importance of family and the rejection of materialism at Christmas chimes as relevant today as when Dickens wrote the story 174 years ago.”
For Gary, it is reasonably straightforward to combine the role of director with the role of Scrooge himself.
“Scrooge observes most of the story.
“He stands back to watch what is happening, which makes it quite easy to step out of the role and to direct the show. But also it is very collaborative. I am working with very experienced people.”
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is at The Spire, Eastern Road, Brighton, BN2 5JN from Wednesday, December 13-Thurday, December 28 with tickets available from firstname.lastname@example.org or on www.scroogeinspired.com.