The actors in A Christmas Carol have a lot on their plates. On top of memorizing lines, developing their characters, and honing their craft, some cast members have another challenge: elementary and middle school. Each year, Trinity Rep features a small group of children, with two young actors alternating in each role, in our classic holiday production of A Christmas Carol, a tradition now in its 42nd year.
The casts are selected through an audition process run by the show’s director and Trinity Rep staff members, who look for kids who love what they’re doing and who shine on stage. First comes the initial audition, where kids must sing 30 seconds of a holiday song and read through a scene from the show. Next is the callback audition, where kids who stood out at the first audition have another opportunity to show what they can do. After that, the casting is solidified and two more groups of children have joined the Trinity Rep family, as members of the cast of A Christmas Carol.
I recently caught up with a few members of the past A Christmas Carol kids club: Phineas Peters (Tiny Tim, 2011 and 2012), Bedros Kevorkian (Tiny Tim, 2012 and 2013), and Robert Capron (Turkey Boy, 2007). I learned more about their experiences on the Trinity Rep stage and the impact it had on them.
When asked to describe their time as Tiny Tim, Peters and Kevorkian don’t hesitate. “Magical,” says Kevorkian. “In every way,” Peters adds. The pair, who alternated the role in 2012, both made their professional debuts at Trinity Rep, and it’s a time both consider crucial. “I was just an eight-year-old boy starting out in the theater,” Peters says, “but I was surrounded by brilliant and talented people who created such a vibrant and elaborate show in front of my eyes.”
Kevorkian, also eight when he first took the Trinity Rep stage, says much the same thing. Through A Christmas Carol, he had the opportunity to “…meet so many new friends and work with professional actors whom I learned a lot from.” This includes Stephen Thorne, who played Bob Cratchit that year and was seen in last year’s production as Ebenezer Scrooge himself.
Capron, a former Turkey Boy (the young courier that Scrooge sends to buy a turkey after his night with the three spirits) couldn’t agree more. After taking acting classes through Trinity Rep’s Young Actors Studio, Capron discovered a love of the theater. He auditioned and was cast in A Christmas Carol that same year. “I wept on stage at my last performance of A Christmas Carol,” he remembers, sad that his time in A Christmas Carol was over. “It was, and always will be, one of the most special experiences I have ever had.” From taking his last bow, to throwing up just before his cue (we all get nervous sometimes!), to covering up a fall on stage, he saw it all as Turkey Boy.
After attending shows at Trinity Rep throughout that season, acting on stage alongside resident company members, was an extraordinary thing for Capron. He says that “Sometimes in life, you just know you’re watching art.” This was one of those times. “What a joy to be on stage with the people you respect, the ones who set you on the path you’re now a part of,” he reflects. “…I had that at eight.” Three years after, Capron made his silver screen debut as Rowley, the titular character’s best friend in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid film franchise, based on the children’s books of the same name by Jeff Kinney. He traces this accomplishment directly back to his days at Trinity Rep, saying that the experience and skills he gained during his time in the Young Actors Studio classroom and in A Christmas Carol were crucial during auditions and filming.
Although Kevorkian and Peters have long outgrown the role of Tiny Tim, they carry the lessons learned on stage with them. “Theater has helped me come out of my shell,” Kevorkian says. Telling Tiny Tim’s story, “…taught me to show the world who I truly am.” The experience was equally transformative for Peters, who credits his time on stage with fostering his creative side. “The impact was tremendous,” Peters says. “[Theater] has been a wonderful outlet for my love of storytelling.”
The magic of live theater remains alive for Capron, too. “Theater has a habit of getting to the raw emotional truth of events and narratives in a way that continues to amaze me,” he says. In terms of emotional connection and investment, for Capron, “…there’s nothing like having that live audience there.” As he describes it, theater creates a “unique rendition of an ever-dynamic work of art,” a temporary beautiful thing that has real power to make change.
As much as he loves theater in general, it’s Trinity Rep, in particular, that has Capron’s heart. “I owe theater, and Trinity Rep at large, everything,” he says, looking back on his days as a Turkey Boy and in Young Actors Studio. “If my life was a house, my time at Trinity Rep and what it taught me is the foundation.” Even now, as a senior at Brown University, Capron still sees Trinity Rep as his home. “I will cherish it always,” he says.
Like another famous Christmas curmudgeon, our hearts at Trinity Rep grew three sizes after hearing from these A Christmas Carol veterans. Onstage or off, we’re always rooting for all of our actors, and we’re glad to see that our youngest performers enjoyed their time with us. To these kids, we say thank you.