Steve Gagliastro began his journey at The Hanover Theatre more than a decade ago, but his history on Worcester stages spans as far back as back as the 5th grade, performing in the Worcester Public Schools. To my knowledge, he is the first Worcester native to take on the iconic role of Ebenezer Scrooge on the professional stage in Worcester (potentially even in New England) in the past several decades. Our director, Troy Siebels, recently said in a BTS interview about A Christmas Carol Reimagined, “Steve has been a big part of the show from an artistic standpoint for a decade and I think that he was about as equipped as anybody could possibly have been to step into this role. I’m really happy with that decision and with the performance he gives.”
As his wife and someone who holds this show near and dear to my heart, I can tell you nothing brought me more joy in 2020 than the moment Troy called Steve to offer him the opportunity to debut as Ebenezer Scrooge. To paint a fuller picture of Steve Gagliastro’s contributions this year as well as the past 10 years, I conducted an interview focused on his history with Troy Siebels’ A Christmas Carol—our favorite Worcester tradition.
An Actor with Many Faces
What roles have you played in A Christmas Carol through the years?
At The Hanover Theatre: Scrooge, Ghost of the Future, Charitable Gentleman, Fezziwig, Old Joe, Grave Digger, Fred Party Guest, Onstage Caroler Conductor, Poulterer, Storyteller, Associate Music Dir, Associate Dir.
Elsewhere: Young Ebenezer, “Domestic” (Dilber), Ghost of the Present, School Master Digby, Business Man (Lunch Scene)
Describe your initial audition at The Hanover Theatre for director Troy Siebels in 2010.
In 2009, I had performed A Child’s Christmas in Wales in Boston and was ready to return to the production. However, my wife, Annie, was in ACC that year and after seeing it, I was very impressed with the show (especially “Boar’s Head”, the song that introduces the Ghost of Christmas Present in Act II).
Seeing as it was in my hometown and would be with my wife, I auditioned for The Hanover. Troy Siebels and music director, Tim Evans, were there. Sean Patrick Hopkins was the reader. I don’t remember what sides I read, but I remember singing from the show and playing some trombone on The Hanover Stage.
I do remember how long the distance was from the back of the house to the stage and how it could be intimidating to younger performers. That, as well as the fact that as a kid, I used to go to the movies in this space.
Can you share your journey as a creative at The Hanover Theatre?
My journey happened sort of organically. I was cast as the “onstage choir conductor” during the God Rest You Merry Gentlemen scene that follows the Counting House. That year, I also started conducting the offstage pieces Tim Evans couldn’t be backstage for. Over many years, it evolved into me officially becoming Tim’s assistant and actually teaching the notes in his absence. My background is in music education and conducting, so it was all a natural progression.
In what ways did your prior experience with A Christmas Carol inform your creation of Ebenezer Scrooge this year?
As this is my 11th year with Hanover and 15th production of ACC overall, I felt uniquely prepared to play Scrooge.
Since I have played so many roles in the past, I’ve gotten to work opposite three very talented Scrooges in John Davin, Jeremy Lawrence and Dale Place- all very different interpretations. Between these performances, screen performances including Albert Finney, Alastair Sim, Bill Murray, Scrooge McDuck, Michael Caine- and even Mr. Magoo!- coupled with my own interpretation, helped shape my performance.
A Pleasure and a Toil
What did you find the most challenging about creating A Christmas Carol Reimagined?
The most challenging parts of the re-imagined ACC were 1) the offstage rigamarole- Covid-19 testing, temperature check, socially distant blocking, no sharing of props, etc. Also missing the camaraderie of the full cast and crew from the mainstage production.
2) Getting to the emotional places Scrooge needs to go with a truncated journey. As the script was distilled down, many of the moments that inform Scrooge’s character are shortened or eliminated. While this widens the avenue of choices, it also presents a less rich tapestry to draw from for both actor and audience.
What was the easiest part about creating ACCR?
The easiest part was having the cast be all returnees as well as sharp, talented performers- creatives and crew too!
Do you have favorite filmed version of A Christmas Carol?
My favorite filmed version is SCROOGE! starring Albert Finney.
How was it different telling this story onscreen vs. in a 2,300 seat theatre?
Beside playing Scrooge, the biggest differences in telling this story for the small screen vs. a 2,000+ seat house were blocking/sight lines and the size of my performance. As the show was filmed from several angles, the usual blocking and staging was always taken as “well, this might change when John (filmmaker John Stimpson) gets here.” I also felt I could be much smaller in certain moments that would normally need to be huge just to reach the back of the theatre.
Do you have a favorite memory you’d like to share after creating over a decade of memories at The Hanover Theatre?
I very much enjoyed being just a few feet away from my wife while she had her big scene as Mrs. Crachit when she tears into Scrooge for being a “cold, hard, stingy, unfeeling, odious man as Mr. Scrooge!”
The Audience Perspective
This past weekend you watched ACCR at an in-person screening at The BrickBox Theater, what’s your reaction to that experience?
It a bit was surreal being a patron in a performance space for the first time since February and having it be this production in this iteration. Although I may be too close to the show to judge, I was really pleased at and proud of how well ACCR turned out.
Thanks so much for taking the time to give us more insight into your journey with Troy Siebels’ A Christmas Carol at The Hanover Theatre and your debut performance as Ebenezer Scrooge!
Read more about Steve Gagliastro at www.stevegags.com