Ron Otulakowski plays the miserly Scrooge in Grosse Pointe Theatre’s version of “A Christmas Carol, the Musical.”

Ron Otulakowski plays the miserly Scrooge in Grosse Pointe Theatre’s version of “A Christmas Carol, the Musical.”

Photo provided by Grosse Pointe Theatre

Grosse Pointe Theatre delivers a magical holiday musical gift

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published November 21, 2022

 In Grosse Pointe Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol, the Musical,” Mack Kohler plays Tiny Tim, and Mario Simone plays Bob Cratchit.

In Grosse Pointe Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol, the Musical,” Mack Kohler plays Tiny Tim, and Mario Simone plays Bob Cratchit.

Photo provided by Grosse Pointe Theatre

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Over at Grosse Pointe Theatre headquarters in Grosse Pointe City, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

GPT, celebrating its 75th anniversary, is staging “A Christmas Carol, the Musical” from Nov. 25 to Dec. 4 at the Parcells Middle School auditorium in Grosse Pointe Woods. Based on the Charles Dickens tale about a miser — Ebeneezer Scrooge — who’s moved to change his ways after holiday visits from three ghosts, the show features a score with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens.

Menken is famous for his scores for multiple Walt Disney favorites, including “Beauty and the Beast” and “The Little Mermaid,” while Ahrens is known for “Ragtime,” “Seussical” and “Once on This Island.”

“The music and score really breathe a fantastic new life into the classic tale,” Director Kevin Fitzhenry, of Warren, said via an email interview. “The biggest change that will be new to audiences is that Scrooge interacts with the three ghosts (Past, Present, Future) as people on the street before he has his transformational journey. It really adds to the dream-like nature of his journey.”

Mario Simone, of Romeo, who plays Scrooge’s overworked and underpaid clerk, Bob Cratchit, said in an email interview that the addition of music “only enhances an already moving story.”

Doing this show meant stepping into the roles of these iconic characters.

“Bob Cratchit is a very recognizable character and one of my favorites from the original Dickens story,” Simone said. “He’s a working-class father who tries his very best to provide what little he can to his family, especially to his beloved Tiny Tim. One thing I never saw in the character before taking on this role is his affinity for and inherent understanding of Scrooge. Cratchit is the only character in the show that truly understands Scrooge and never loses hope in him. I hope my portrayal will share that hopeful understanding with the audience.”

Zak Shugart, of Chesterfield Township, remembers seeing the film version of “A Christmas Carol, the Musical” when he was young, as well as several stage productions of it. He’s now excited to be doing the show, playing Jacob Marley.

“In life, Marley was Scrooge’s greedy business partner and only friend,” Shugart said in an email interview. “Marley’s death at a young age (among several other tragic events) isolated Scrooge from humanity and sculpted him into the ‘Bah Humbug!’ man we love to hate. Because Marley was uncharitable and refused to help his fellow man, in death, he is forced to walk the earth in purgatory, dragging the very locks and heavy chains he used to hide his fortune. He foreshadows that, if Scrooge doesn’t change his ways and open his heart, that he is in store for an even worse fate. He also warns that Scrooge will be visited by the ghosts of Past, Present and Future.”

Kimberly Elliott, of Canton, plays the Ghost of Christmas Past. In an email interview, she said her best friend, Ashley Gatesy, who plays Emily, had done the show once before and “adores it,” so Gatesy encouraged Elliott to audition, as well.

“The thing that drew me to this character in particular is their lovely song, ‘The Lights of Long Ago,’” Elliott said.

Ron Olulakowski, of Warren, stars as Scrooge.

“Our Scrooge is absolutely fabulous, and our featured roles and ensemble have the talent, the energy and the voices to back him up,” Shugart said. “I’d also like to (give a) shout out (to) our choreographer Brett Wotherspoon for crafting some great dances, especially the big tap number.”

Elliott said there will “be something for everyone to enjoy.”

Since COVID-19 and various other viruses are going around this time of year, the cast and crew say they’re working hard not to get themselves — or anyone else — sick. While the timing adds some extra stressors, there have been pluses, as well. Shugart noted they were playing ghosts around Halloween, will be performing during the tree lighting ceremony in Detroit Nov. 18 and will start staging the show right after Thanksgiving.

“I am very proud of what this cast has achieved,” Fitzhenry said. “We have a full gamut of actors — some have been onstage for over 30+ years and some are performing for the very first time! This really is an extraordinary display of talent on this stage.”

Simone echoed that sentiment, praising the young performers in particular.

“Having a show around Christmas is the perfect way to get us, and hopefully the audience, in the Christmas spirit,” Simone said. “The hope is that we’re able to give everyone involved a lovely Christmas experience.”

Parcells Middle School is located at 20600 Mack Ave. in Grosse Pointe Woods. Tickets cost $30 per person. For tickets or more information, visit or call the GPT box office at (313) 881-4004.