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Humbug!


Does anything warm Ebenezer Scrooge’s heart? Lyric Theatre’s newest star, Chris Bloch, er, Mr. Scrooge, gets to the core of what drives A Christmas Carol.

December 11th, 2013

Ebenezer Scrooge doesn’t consider the holiday season to be “the most wonderful time of the year.” In fact, he has become so known for his dislike of the season that his name has become synonymous with it. But to loathe the season? Can it be possible? Surely there is something about the season that warms this curmudgeon’s heart.

In this exclusive interview, we will delve into the depths of Mr. Scrooge’s surliness and see if there isn’t at least one thing, be it ever so insignificant, that brings a smile to his face.

There really is nothing that Mr. Scrooge loves about Christmas. We did, however, see what would almost be described as a smile when he talked about the bells. Perhaps they conjure up a happier time, a time when his life was not consumed by work or his utterly solitary nature. Try as we might, he would not elaborate further. Perhaps next year.

For some background, the “newest” take on Scrooge this season is actor Chris Bloch, a professional based in Washington, D.C. He joins the cast of Lyric Theatre’s A Christmas Carol for its third year of the production, where Bloch will, for the first time, fill the shoes of the lead character, Ebenezer Scrooge. You can see him at Lyric at The Plaza through Dec. 28.

In the meantime, we’ve all heard his signature phrase, “Bah humbug!” But what does it mean? Where did it come from? The man with the pinched face and permanent scowl, the word “no” perpetually waiting on his lips — what made him the man we see? What was he like as a child?

This is the man who becomes obviously upset when anything having to do with Christmas comes up. Broach the topic and he purses his lips with obvious irritation and remains quiet or fills the space with his signature catchphrase.

What people really want to know is, Why? Oklahoma Gazette contacted Bloch, er, Mr. Scrooge at his shop one afternoon by telephone.

OKG: Hello, Mr. Scrooge? Mr. Ebenezer Scrooge?
Scrooge:
What do you want?

OKG: Do you have a few words for the Gazette about Christmas? If you could spare just a few moments, I’d like to talk to you about the holiday season. You’ve become quite wellknown for your feelings, or lack thereof, about it.
Scrooge:
I don’t. I am very busy.

OKG: I see. Just a few moments? 
Scrooge: No. You’re better off talking to my underling. Unfortunately, he’s too busy to talk about such frivolous things.

This was going to be a very short interview indeed.

OKG: Mr. Scrooge, do you have any happy memories of Christmas?
Scrooge:
I do, but they’re buried pretty darn deeply. They are long gone.

OKG: What were Christmases like for you at home as a child?
Scrooge:
Well, there were very few Christmases at home since I spent time in a boarding school. I was finally rescued by my sister, who was sent there by my dear papa, but they were mostly ... I was left all alone.

OKG: I know I’m not the first person to bring this up, but you’re somewhat of a curmudgeon. I don’t think this will come as a surprise to you. In particular, you have a phrase that you have kind of become known for this time of year: “Bah humbug.” What does it mean? Where did it come from? Scrooge: Well, “bah” is a pretty common term for not putting any stock in anything, and “humbug,” I think is something that is very much associated with my attitude toward Christmas, and that is its being a bunch of tripe and not worth a thing.

It’s very much become my catchphrase.

OKG: Is there anything, anything at all, that you do like about the holiday? Anything that you used to enjoy that remains?
Scrooge:
I do have a chance to be a little bit more on my own. Unfortunately, there are a few more people coming in the office. I do enjoy solitude very much. I give my one employee the day off. With pay, no less! I don’t have to put up with him underfoot. He’s always so cheerful and talkative, it makes me quite irritated.

OKG: How do you feel about the materialism associated with Christmas?
Scrooge:
It’s all part of a worthless celebration. This celebration is all quite ridiculous with the togetherness and the time off work. There’s also the matter of spending money. If all of those who couldn’t afford it would stop spending their money on things that they didn’t need and on this worthless holiday, they would be all so much better off! But I do make quite a bit of money this time of year, since the poor always seem to be the ones most likely to part with their money for foolish reasons. I always benefit from that in my line of work.

 

OKG: Is it the way that it is becoming increasingly more secular? Is that part of the problem for you? Scrooge: I don’t care for the holiday whether it’s religious or not. It’s the celebration — whether it’s people enjoying each other or what they get up to, it really has nothing to do with me.

I do love the bells, though.

OKG: Can you elaborate on that?
Scrooge: Well, it’s nothing, really. It’s just that I have always loved the sound of the bells. A foolish notion, but an indulgence that doesn’t cost me a penny or rely on me having to spend any time with anyone. I do also enjoy walking around the town this time of year, especially on Christmas — people tend to spend more time indoors with their families. It allows me to move about unmolested, especially by those looking for handouts. I came by all of my money quite honestly. My late partner, Jacob Marley, and I made quite a bit of money when it was all said and done.

OKG: Tell me about Jacob Marley.
Scrooge:
Well, there’s really not much to tell. We were acquaintances who had the same priorities. It was a convenient and ultimately lucrative relationship. He passed away. Christmas Eve, it was, almost ten years ago. I don’t like to dwell on the past. What’s past is past, I always say.

OKG: Would this be why you claim to have no memories of your childhood Christmas celebrations?
Scrooge:
I would think so, yes. That and I just don’t have the time. I don’t dwell on things like that. There’s too much work to be done.

OKG: Making money?
Scrooge:
Yes, of course. Now, I really must get back to my work. You’ve taken up quite enough of my time. Good day to you, and please show yourself out.

And with that, we’re through.

 
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