Michael Elkins

Michael Elkins

Notre Dame de Namur unwraps ‘The Gift: A Christmas Carol The Musical’

No one would call Michael Elkins a Scrooge, even though he has played one for 28 years.

Elkins, chairman of theater and dance at Notre Dame de Namur University, portrays the iconic Dickens character in the school’s annual production of “A Christmas Carol,” which opens next week.

“Playing Scrooge is wonderful,” Elkins says. “You get the best of both worlds. You get to be all ‘despicable me’ and then go through that cathartic transformation. People need to think that there’s that chance of redemption,” he says.

NDNU’s “Christmas Carol” — affectionately called “The Gift” by locals — is free for all performances, except the opening-gala presentation Dec. 6. And patrons are encouraged to bring nonperishable food and toys to every performance. The items are donated to varied Bay Area charities. Each year, the event collects an average of 1,500 toys and as much as 3 tons of food. Since 1985, some 100,000 have attended.

NDNU’s adaptation of the classic is a musical featuring music by Alan Menken (famous for his Disney scores for “Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast), lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, and book by Mike Ockrent and Ahrens. Of course, authentic details evoke the Victorian London setting.

“The biggest challenge is making sure it never gets stale,” Elkins says. “I’m always looking for new things to do, whether it’s new special effects or whatever.”

The show stars professional and amateur actors, including many young students. Working with children and teens isn’t difficult, Elkin says: “The challenge is making sure we have the chemistry with the group. There’s always turnover in principal roles.”

For Elkins, Dickens’ 1843 story has remained popular for so long because it has a strong message of transformation. His favorite scene is after Scrooge wakes up from a dream and decides to take up his nephew’s offer to meet for Christmas lunch: “There’s a leap of faith, like what if he turns Scrooge away.”

The play, he says, “has an effect on people. It re-inspires them to be kinder to others and reflect on their good fortune, as Dickens wanted it.”

Ticketed opening-night festivities include caroling and a post-show Victorian gala and banquet at which guests may meet the cast and crew and feast on refreshments. The menu features roast beef, sliders, salmon, mashed potatoes, salad, desserts, beer and wine.

IF YOU GO

The Gift: A Christmas Carol The Musical

Where: Notre Dame de Namur University Theatre, 1500 Ralston Ave., Belmont

When: Opens at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 6; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturdays, 2 p.m. Sundays, plus 7:30 p.m. Dec. 12-13; closes Dec. 15

Tickets: Free (except on Dec. 6); food and toy donations encouraged

Contact: www.ChristmasCarolTheGift.org

Note: Tickets to the Dec. 6 gala cost $25 to $50.arts

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

San Francisco lacks housing data that would let it track rental vacancies and prices. New legislation is seeking to change that.<ins> (Photo by Joel Angel Jurez/2016 Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Landlords blast proposal to require annual report on rentals as invasion of privacy

Housing inventory could give city better data on housing vacancies, affordability

University of San Francisco head coach Todd Golden coaches his team on defense during a 2019 gameat War Memorial Gymnasium on the campus of the University of San Francisco. (Ryan Gorcey / S.F. Examiner)
Stunner in Bubbleville: USF upsets fourth-ranked Virginia

Less than 48 hours removed from a loss to a feeble UMass… Continue reading

Health care workers would be the first group in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
Hope on the way: Here’s what to know about California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

The first batch of doses could hit the state as soon as early December

The Big Game was played Friday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. (Shutterstock)
Stanford blocks extra point to stun Cal, win 123rd Big Game 24-23

The 123rd edition of the Big Game featured a number of firsts.… Continue reading

Psilocybin magic mushrooms (Shutterstock)
‘Magic mushrooms’ moving into the mainstream

Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics could follow several different paths

Most Read