Curiocity: Q&A With Tyler Michaels From Guthrie’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Curiocity: Q&A With Tyler Michaels From Guthrie’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

One of the Guthrie Theater’s most popular plays is back, just in time for the holidays.

This marks the 40th season of Charles Dickens’ immortal tale “A Christmas Carol.” This year, there’s a new twist on Crispin Whittell’s adaptation.

Tyler Michaels, an emerging local actor is performing for the first time in this timeless classic.

He got his start on the stage in Bloomington in a middle school production of Annie. Michaels studied theater at Minnesota State University-Moorhead and returned to the cities to start his acting career. He’s most recently been in the Chanhassen Dinner Theater’s “Hello Dolly” and “A Little Mermaid,” as well as Theater Latté Da’s production of “Cabaret.”

In “A Christmas Carol,” he plays Dick Wilkins in the Christmas past section. Wilkins is a friend of young Scrooge as he works at Fezziwig’s workshop who’s a symbol of the goodness that used to exist with Scrooge.

In Christmas present, he’s Topper, a guest at Scrooge’s nephew’s party.

Michaels talked to WCCO about this special production of the Christmas tale and what audience members can expect.

Congratulations on “A Christmas Carol,” 40 years at the Guthrie is something to celebrate. The Guthrie has a long respected reputation for its production, but what makes this year’s production different?

I think there’s something about the theater doing this for almost a half century. Someone told me over two million people have seen the Guthrie’s “A Christmas Carol,” which is incredible to think of that many people have been to this theater to see that particular show.

In this production, in particular, there’s a lot of really talented people in it. Not that there weren’t before, but generationally, there’s younger actors who’ve taken the place of those who’ve decided to step aside. Me being one of them. And to fill the shoes of these wonderful people in the community is such an honor. This 40th anniversary is a showcase of these new and upcoming talents in the city that are hopefully here to stay for a while.

This is your first time in “A Christmas Carol.” What has that experience been like, especially working with such seasoned actors?

It’s strange, I don’t think I’ve done a holiday show before. You’d think having acting for a long time, I would have done a Christmas-something. But this is my first time and there’s something so special about the messages these types of shows bring. Even for myself, to reconnect with that idea of good will and giving back to the people around you is so important. I think it’s a wonderful message to bring this time of year.

Many of the cast members have been in the play for several years. I was a little scared of it at first.

On the second schedule we got when we started rehearsals, it said “review the Fezziwig dance.” And I was like “Review? I haven’t learned it yet!” But everyone sweeps you up and takes you under their wing. That really helps you with it. There’s not a sense of ‘you’re doing this wrong.’ They really give you the time and space to find the character for yourself and help you along the way by sharing direction of how it’s worked in the past.

It works like a machine in a good way. They’re also open to changing the play a little bit. While this year’s adaptation is again by Crispin Whittell, there’s some drastic changes. The beginning of the show is a little darker and a little more heavy to show Scrooge as a hard-edged person, not as comedic or as loveable. It’s exciting to be a part of that process.

A Christmas Carol” opened this week and runs through Dec. 28. Tickets range in price from $34 to $116. You can purchase tickets by calling the box office at 612-377-2224 or by visiting their website.