Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

32 Years of Laughter

Posted November 2, 2006

I received an email from my daughter at Appalachian State University. She is bringing her roommate from Knoxville, TN home for part of Christmas break. Lauren only had one request. "Can you get us tickets to 'A Christmas Carol' by Ira David Wood?" So, I drove down to the Memorial Auditorium box office last week at the Progress Energy Center and purchased a couple of tickets to Lauren's favorite Christmas program. Wood's hilarious and brilliant adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic debuted 32 years ago in Raleigh and has been a huge success every year. More than 20,000 people see the play each year in what is clearly one of the most popular theatre productions in North Carolina history. This week I checked in with David who plays Scrooge in the play. I wanted to find out what is new this year. Well, the cast has grown to 90. Most of them are volunteers. What about the script? Those who know the show love the surprises and how Wood masterfully weaves current events into the script. This year expect the cast of "A Christmas Carol" to poke fun at the Jaume Plensa art controversy. And Wood says: "Look for 'and I'm Margaret' from the Fred Anderson Toyota commercial. We've even got one of the twins to help us out. As for the political jokes, we're keeping our eyes peeled on the elections going on around the country. LOTS of opportunities there." When pressed about how he makes the tough decisions about what to leave in, what to add and what to throw out, Wood said: "When confronted with an artistic decision, I always take the time to leave the main auditorium and go into a quiet room by myself. I breathe deeply for a few moments, light a candle and say out loud: "What would Bill Leslie do in a case like this?" This process has never failed me in thirty-two years." Ira David Wood - always the prankster! Always great fun! "A Christmas Carol" runs December 5-13. Please share your favorite memories of this marvelous production.

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Bill Leslie