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Back to Christmas

The Muppets’ A Christmas Carol was Simon Marino’s favourite show as a child. Marino now plays the ghost of Marley, a former employee of the Christmas-hating Ebenezer Scrooge in Evolution Theatre Company’s stage version of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Trouble is, Marley was deep into the commercial life over common humanity before he died and is now doomed to roam for eternity in chains he made for himself. Marino plays Marley’s ghost with shaggy-haired, wild-eyed torment. In full flight he bears a certain resemblance to Christopher Lloyd’s character Emmett “Doc” Brown in the movie Back to the Future — another of Marino’s favourite shows — but we’ll come back to that.

Marino was at a Halloween party when Suzan Anderson (Ghost of Christmas Past and Ghost of Christmas Future) asked him if he would join the cast for A Christmas Carol. Kings of the Gym director James Packman had already nabbed him to play PE teacher Pat in the Unity Theatre show though. Marino agreed to perform in A Christmas Carol and swung into it as soon as Kings ended. In a short time he learned his part as Marley . . . and a second part, Joe the back street dealer for stolen goods, then a third — the captain of a ship on high seas — each with a different accent.

In Kings of the Gym he wore a wig on his shaved head. As Marley, he wears a whitish, long-haired wig.

“The wig does all the acting,” he says.

“Any questions or praise, direct it to the wig.”

The wig might well say it is responsible for bringing about the resemblance to Doc Brown.

Marino and his bride-to-be, Shannon, had a surprising brush with Doc Brown’s movie on their wedding day in the UK. The best man secretly arranged to have one of the famous DeLorean cars used in the film to transport Marino to his future wife. Marino was dressed up in his tuxedo when he heard the familiar rumble up the drive.

And now he has a idea for a new show.

“Half the mini-sets in A Christmas Carol could be reused for a theatrical production of Back to the Future,” he says of the mini-stages that light up around the theatre for various scenes.

“That’s coming up next, folks.”

Evolution Theatre Company presents Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, 75 Disraeli Street. Running now until December 22. Visit http://www.evolutiontheatre.org.nz/a-christmas-carol to book tickets. Door sales also available, Adults $32, seniors $29, 17 yo and under $24.

MARLEY’S VISIT: In Evolution Theatre Company’s production of A Christmas Carol Simon Marino (left) plays the ghost of Marley, miser Ebenezer Scrooge’s (Fraser Grout) former employee who died seven years ago on Christmas Day. Picture supplied