, Salem, MA


December 20, 2012

Talking Texas with David Coffee

For 20 years, he's played Scrooge at the North Shore Music Theatre -- with no hint of a Texas drawl


Who had you played Scrooge for at that point?

For a company out of Dallas; it was called Bill Deacon Attractions. They had three companies touring around doing adaptations. I did two seasons of “A Christmas Carol,” but in three years I did several shows with him. We called them “bus and truck shows.” They were mostly all one-nighters; we’d do a show in a theater or high school auditorium, then drive 400 miles and do the next one.

You have had so much success playing Scrooge — what is your affinity for this character?

I don’t know. It is interesting though, I do remember as a child being more attracted to Scrooge than I was to Tiny Tim. I always migrated to him. I don’t know why, but I always did.

How do you keep the role fresh, after playing him so many years?

Usually it’s kept fresh because of the people you’re working with, and because they always try to do something a little different each year. This isn’t a museum piece. They use the same script and music, but they always re-examine it.

For instance this year we changed where exactly the intermission fell, and did a little readjustment at the beginning of the show, trying to get it a little better, get a hook into it. About half of the actors haven’t done it before, half are new, and that brings a fresh attitude and fresh looks on things.

Are there any other roles that you have played for as long?

Nothing for such a long time. That definitely is unique.

What types of plays have you done mostly? Comedies, musicals?

For years and years, I made my money from musicals. There’s a little theater in Texas where I would do musicals or farces. Then about five years ago they started a company at Texas Christian, my old university, a Shakespeare festival. The chair of the department — we went to school there together — said, “David, I’d like you to be a part of this.” But I hadn’t done any Shakespeare. He said, “It’s the same as anything else.” That has stretched me out.

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