‘A Christmas Carol’ adds to the fun-filled family offerings this festive season

William Harding as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”. Supplied image.

William Harding as Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol”. Supplied image.

Published Nov 21, 2023


There are plenty of stage productions helping us get into the festive spirit. One such production is “A Christmas Carol”, which has become a regular feature on the theatre calendar around this time every year.

And the adaptation of Charles Dickens's timeless story is perfect for the entire family.

For the Joburg run, William Harding (“Daryn’s Gym”) slips into the skin of Scrooge while Taylor Salgado takes on the mammoth task of breathing life into several supporting characters.

I was able to chat to Harding early in the morning at the start of the week, although, to the actor, 10am wasn’t that early.

He laughed: “It’s about time for that second cup of coffee.”

On landing the role, Harding says producer Jaco van Rensburg, whom he crossed paths with on another production, sent him a message asking him to audition for this one.

“And pretty much the next night, I did a self-tape at home, putting on the best dressing gown I could find (chuckles), to look somewhat like Scrooge,” he said.

“And I was cast after that and was lucky enough to get it.”

To his best recollection, he says the production has been running for seven years or so.

“They have had a whole bunch of Scrooges and different cast members being in it. What I enjoy is slipping into something that’s been going on for 7 years.

“The director (Elizma Badenhorst) is always looking for something new and exciting despite having done it before. She is wonderful to work for because she knows the play so well.

“Also, looking at how we can take it to the next level and the character of Scrooge, who is one of the great curmudgeonly unkind vicious characters to play that goes through a wonderful journey.”

He added: “I remember watching a Mickey Mouse version of ‘A Christmas Carol’, being six or seven years old. He’s just so much fun to play, this vicious angry old man who then goes on a journey of discovering that charity and kindness are probably good things as well.

“There’s nothing more fun than playing a very dislikeable person.”

We chuckle over the fact that while it won’t go down very well in real life, playing a detestable character and being booed is a feather in the cap of the actor.

William Harding as Scrooge with Taylor Salgado, playing several characters, in “A Christmas Carol”. Supplied image.

“It’s the one time you can get booed and realise that you have done a good job. I don’t know what it is about playing unlikeable characters but it is a lot of fun.”

Harding sang the praises of his co-star Salgado.

“She’s got an incredibly difficult job of playing every other character, but to handle that using puppets, voice-overs and costume changes. It’s a very difficult role.

“But she’s been absolutely wonderful, playful and a delight to work with. She’s been really fantastic.”

Why should audiences watch this play?

“It’s just it is such a beautiful Christmas tale of redemption and I think we really go into that. That it is never too late to turn back the clock and have a wonderful life.

“It is also wonderfully scary, gothic and cold. It gives you the beauty of being a ghost story. It is also all the different incredible characters that are puppeteered.

“I would say the beauty is the redemptive arc of the story, with all the amazing thrills of the stagecraft. It is really what makes it fun for everyone.”

A definite must-see for the whole family.

“A Christmas Carol” is on at Pieter Toerien’s Montecasino Theatre from November 24 to December 10 at 7pm.

Tickets range from R150 to R230 and can be purchased via Webtickets.

Other shows worth seeing:

“The Terrified Talabalushi”

A theatre piece with music for children, directed by award-winning Omphile Molusi and composed by the multi-talented Volley Nchabeleng.

Set in the Knysna forest, the protagonist is Tokkie, a terrified young Talabalushi. Tokkie’s family have reached their wits’ end because their youngest, Tokkie, is terrified of everything but, mostly, he is terrified of the light.

The cast in rehearsals for “The Terrified Talabalushi”. Picture: Supplied.

This means that he can’’t go out scaring, which is what he is meant to do.

Most people don’t know what Talabalushis are, which isn’t surprising – they are secretive and are only active after sunset.

A Talabalushi is a small, Southern African, mischievous creature, a combination of a goblin, a spirit and a tree creature found in the unseen side of South African forests, and sometimes even closer to our villages, towns, and cities.

The production promises to be an excellent way to explore the emotions of fear in a safe and entertaining way.

Where: The Market Theatre.

When: November 23 to December 17 at 11am.

Tickets: R150 from Webtickets.

“Peter Pan”

As you prepare to let your hair down over the festival period, it doesn’t mean that you have to find different activities for the whole family.

Janice Honeyman’s pantomime “Peter Pan” makes for the perfect family outing.

As for the principal cast, Honeyman, wearing the hat of writer and director, has Sandi Dlangalala playing Peter Pan, Ben Voss as Captain Hook, Michael Richard as Captain Hook’s sidekick, Smee, Kiruna-Lind Devar as Wendy, David Arnold Johnson as Dame Clementina Coconut and newcomer Virtuous Kandemiri as Tinkerbell.

Where: The Mandela Stage at Joburg Theatre.

When: Oon until December 24.

Cost: Prices vary from R130 to R360 and can be purchased through Webtickets.