Chesapeake Shakespeare Company will be present the holiday classic “A Christmas Carol” based on the story by Charles Dickens. This version has a bit of twist CSC’s annual version moves the action to a more familiar locale right here to Baltimore, rather than taking place in Victorian England. This allows them to bring in some local history and culture but “staying true” to the Dickens’ tale. The adaptation is written by Ian Gallanar and directed by Lizzi Albert and Erin Bone Steele.
The principal actors include Greg Burgess (Scrooge), Kathryne Daniels (Mrs. Fezziwig, Mary Pickersgill and others), Jonas Connors-Grey (Christmas Present, Mr. Fezziwig and others), Jose Guzman (Bob Cratchit and the Ghost of Jacob Marley, Isaiah Harvey (Fred, Young Scrooge, and others), Carolyn Kashner (Christmas Past, Laura, and others), Brendan Kennedy (Topper, Robert Carey Long, Josiah, and others), Molly Moores (Mrs. Cratchit, Second Gentleman), Diana Gonzalez-Ramirez (Young Belle, the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, and others), and B’Jion Wright (Miss Winthrop, Dorothy and others). The younger members of the cast are Thomas Alex Jones (Schoolboy, Cratchit Child, and others), Vivian Klepper (Martha Cratchit, Party Guest, and others), Ryan Macdonald (Schoolboy, Cratchit Child, others), Jaylen Palmer (Schoolboy Scrooge, Peter Cratchit, and others), Gennie Bone Steele (Mary Cratchit), and Penny Bone Steele (Fanny).
The company also did a bit of streamlining so the play runs a perfect (especially for youngsters) 90 minutes with no intermission.
Kristina Lambkin costumed CSC’s inaugural 2014 production of “A Christmas Carol” and has worked with them ever since.
Kristina Lambdin (Resident Costume Designer) won the Broadway World Best Costume Design award for her designs for “A Christmas Carol” (2016). Some of her costuming credits with CSC include “The Adventures of Pericles” (2021), “Dracula” (2013 and 2019); “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “She Stoops to Conquer,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “Red Velvet,” “Anne of the Thousand Days,” “The Fantasticks,” “Macbeth” (2016); “A Christmas Carol” (2014-2021); “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2005, 2011 and 2014); “The Importance of Being Earnest,” “The Taming of the Shrew” (2006 and 2013); “Romeo and Juliet” (2003, 2012, and student matinees 2015-2019); “A Doll’s House,” “As You Like It” (Broadway World Best of Baltimore Award); and “The Country Wife.” Broadway World named her as a top artist of the 2007 Baltimore Theatre, and she won the Greater Baltimore Theater Award for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”(2005). For more than a decade, she served as the Costume Supervisor for the Baltimore Opera Company and then Lyric Opera Baltimore.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself)?
I was born and raised in Baltimore County and currently reside in Towson. I knew since I was about 13 years old that I wanted a career in costumes. I earned my degree in Theatre Arts with a concentration in Costume Design from Towson University. Upon graduation, I began my professional career with the Baltimore Opera Company. During my time as Costume Coordinator there, I was also able to pursue local freelance costume design opportunities as well as IATSE wardrobe union work. In 2003, I got connected with Chesapeake Shakespeare Company. There was something special about the company, and I felt like I had found my “artistic home.” As the company expanded and moved into its home in Baltimore City, I was hired on staff as Resident Costume Designer and Business Manager (I wear multiple hats like many others in the performing arts).
This production takes place in Victorian Baltimore rather than England. How does that change the costuming if at all?
The setting in Baltimore is primarily reflected in the script and in the set design. I’m unaware of any fashion trends unique to Baltimore during the 19th century. I don’t think the Maryland flag had yet made it into daily fashion. This gives me a new idea, though. Scrooge can wear Maryland flag undergarments!
When you costume a period piece like “A Christmas Carol” or Shakespeare, comparing that to modern dress productions, how much research do you do into the type of dress of the time? Does that include the type of fabrics?
Designing for any time period, including modern dress, requires extensive research. The method and sources may differ, but it’s the same process. It’s imperative to conduct research to make sure the costumes “fit” the chosen period, but historical accuracy usually isn’t the goal. You want to interpret the research to serve the production concept and join with the other production elements to create a unified vision. The costumes are used to visually tell the story. They communicate style, mood, character traits, and relationships, as well as time period. For historical shows like “A Christmas Carol,” I certainly try to get fabrics that look “of the period” but are also visual interpretations of the written piece.
How many people work in costuming and wardrobe in a production this size?
Well, it’s mostly just a one-person shop. I’m the designer, the shopper, the pattern maker, the cutter, the stitcher, the craftsperson, and the milliner. I think you get the idea. Most large shows like this have a budget which allows me to hire an extra hand or two for pre-production stitching assistance. For the run of the production, a wardrobe supervisor is hired to be at each performance to care for and prep costumes, assist actors getting dressed, and make the quick changes happen (there are many quick changes in “A Christmas Carol”). But once the show opens, my job isn’t done.There are costume repairs, special laundering, and preparing costumes if an understudy has to go on.
If you could pick one costume you have done to put in a theatre gallery, which one would you choose and why?
Wow, I don’t know if I can pick just one. I’ve designed nearly fifty shows for CSC, so that’s probably around a thousand costumes to choose from. I have a top ten list: Titania, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” (2014); “Henry VIII”’s red and gold outfit; “Anne of a Thousand Days” – Lady Bracknell’s gold and navy ensemble; “The Importance of Being Earnest” – Lucy Westenra’s black and white striped gown,; “Dracula” (2019); the Caterpillar, “Alice in Wonderland;” Milady De Winter, “The Three Musketeers;” Escalus gown, “Romeo & Juliet;” Kate Hardcastle’s pink frock, “She Stoops to Conquer;” Margaret Aldridge, “Red Velvet;” and newest to the list is The Ghost of Christmas Past ensemble to be premiered in this year’s version of “A Christmas Carol.”
“A Christmas Carol” runs from December 3-23, 2021 at the Baltimore Shakespeare Company Theatre, located at 7 Calvert Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. For tickets, click here. For more information about the Chesapeake Shakespeare Company, go to their website. For updated Covid protocols, go to this link.