”I was the first gay Scrooge they ever had,” says Michael Sharp, who starred in Kathy Feininger’s A Broadway Christmas Carol when it was originally staged at Silver Spring’s Round House Theatre a decade ago. The show tells the famous Dickens classic by altering the lyrics to familiar Broadway tunes, 40 or so in all, from The Music Man to Sweeney Todd to Annie.
In Sharp’s first year, the cast even changed the lyrics during one rehearsal. To the tune of ”Oklahoma” — known here as ”Ebenezer” — they sang, ”And then we say, yeah! This year our Scrooge is gay!”
A Broadway Christmas Carol at MetroStage
(Photo by C. Stanley)
”I fell on the floor laughing,” Sharp says. This year, the Helen Hayes Award-winning actor returns to the show, in its second year at Alexandria’s MetroStage. In addition to playing Scrooge, Sharp’s also the director and choreographer.
”I always think of it like the Carol Burnett Show,” says Sharp. ”[Three] people playing a million different characters. Sometimes we crack each other up. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Sharp teases that the show may be gayer than simply featuring a gay actor. ”[Scrooge] never married,” he laughs, ”and he had a strange relationship with his partner, so who knows?”
Of course, there’s the whole Broadway angle too. What’s gayer than that?
Sharp, who grew up in Broadway-bereft Hot Springs, Va., says his school drama teacher turned him on to Broadway. ”My first show I ever saw professionally was A Chorus Line,” he says. ”I knew what I wanted to be [right then and there].” After earning his arts degree from Shenandoah University, Sharp moved to D.C. and started work in theater, eventually becoming a regular at Signature Theatre.
The past few years Sharp has been missing in action on D.C. stages, caring for his ailing parents. He only returned now because his mother encouraged him. ”She loves watching me onstage,” he says.
Sharp says his mother has made a remarkable recovery from a stroke last January. ”Doctors thought that she was going to die,” he says, ”but I got her good care and didn’t give up on her.”
Could he be any less like Scrooge?
A Broadway Christmas Carol runs to ‘Dec. 18 at MetroStage, 1201 North Royal St., Alexandria. Tickets are $45 to $50. Call 800-494-8497 or visit metrostage.org.