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'A Christmas Carol': Scrooges at play?

December 23, 2008 | 10:34 pm

Scrooge

Some fans excited by the promise of seeing Jane Seymour and Gene Wilder in “A Christmas Carol” at the Kodak Theatre are crying foul after learning about a last-minute cast change.

Seymour came down with “a severe bronchial infection” that she felt would hinder her performance, and Wilder, who was scheduled to appear in the form of a hologram, was removed from the show “because the producers decided that it would not be effective in the production.”

The unexpected cast change made the holiday favorite less appealing to at least one customer who hoped for a refund -- and whose experience might be a warning to others.

Excited by the promise of seeing Seymour and Wilder, retired attorney Paula Reddish Zinneman purchased six tickets for her family. She shelled out $498 for herself, two daughters, one son-in-law and two grandchildren. Her Christmas dream was shattered not only by the cast change, she said, but also by the revelation that Wilder would not be appearing in person -- something left out of the Kodak Theatre’s advertisements.

“That was the only reason I wanted to go, and that reason is gone,” she said. “I got better things to do.”

A spokesman for the Kodak said that theater's ads and website contain a special disclaimer warning ticket buyers that the cast is subject to change. Combine that with a "no refund" policy and audience members are stuck seeing a reworked version of what was originally expected.

And apparently, that's not the only problem.

According to a Times staffer who was there, the preview show Monday was a bumpy affair, with a series of glitches that had the audience laughing at the wrong times. Curtains didn’t rise on cue. A prerecorded narration drowned out an exchange by stars Christopher Lloyd (as Scrooge) and John Goodman (as the Ghost of Christmas Present). Lloyd got tangled in his nightshirt costume while trying to change wardrobe. Off in the corner, a conspicuous stagehand tried to help the star and his flummoxed costar ad-lib a line about the ghosts of Christmas messing with his clothes.

Perhaps overcome by holiday goodwill, however, the crowd reportedly laughed along with the mishaps and cheered loudly for the familiar faces of Goodman and Lloyd.

-- Alicia Lozano

Photo: Christopher Lloyd as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol." Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times

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