I was recently watching the Robert Zemeckis version of A Christmas Carol (the motion capture one with Jim Carrey) and it really struck me again just how well suited to a theme park or theatre experience it would be. I particularly love this version because of just how dark it is, to me really illustrating the vision of what A Christmas Carol should be. Aka a nightmare. (A happy dream isn’t going to change your bad ways is it?)
Also I probably should have cropped some of these images. You live and learn I guess starting off a new blog. LOL.
Anyway, I had a series of images mostly just pop into my head and I decided to try and put them down. So here’s an idea for a theme park show or immersiveish experience (at least one scene would make it impossible for normal theatre).
So the movie begins and ends with an illustrated book fading into the actual action of the movie. I’ve always loved this kind of effect, especially when done live (the Jungle Book show at Animal Kingdom used to do this). So the opening curtain is styled in the same way, like an illustration out of a book with a scene of Scrooge going about town. When the music starts the lights fade and it would line up perfectly with the real set and actors.
The main town set would be a series of forced perspective flats, the Cratchet’s house on stage left, and in the middle of the offices of Scrooge and Marley. This building would only have two sides and could rotate to show the interior of the office with panels that slide out from the wings. I tried making a sketch of this, but it didn’t turn out that well so I’ll spare you the pain.
The next big idea (literally) was for how Scrooge would get to his mansion. Slowly all the building sets would slide off into the wings being replaced by large bare winter tree travelers. As this happens, the walls of his mansion come into view and gigantic front door rises up from the the floor – large enough to do projection mapping on the gigantic door knockers for the 1st Marley effect. There’s also a small balcony that could be used for later when Scrooge asks the boy to buy a turkey.
Then, the cool part, to transition inside there would be a clap of thunder and lightning (strobe lights) and in that few seconds the lighting would change drastically, the knockers would turn around, the tree’s would be replaced with columns, and in the matter of a couple seconds the set would go from outside to inside.
The next set, right after this one, is Scrooge’s bedroom. It takes advantage of darkness, being mostly black except for a window dead center in the back (to fly out of possibly?), the four poster bed, chair, fireplace, and giant swags of deep red velvet curtains. It’s also set up for the use of Pepper’s Ghost effects, mostly for the appearance of Marley. The glass runs from the post of the bed to the edge of the window angled so the performer can stand behind the fireplace. I’ve also toyed with adding additional glass right through the middle of the four poster, either for marley or the ghost of christmas future (the actor would likely stand off stage in the wing stage right), or the alternative is to use a more fancy modern approach with a musion film stretched across the entire front of the stage, a projection screen in the pit, and then have the actor either prerecorded, or being on camera live backstage. Lots of options.
Perhaps the most ambitious design is for the christmas present sequence. This is inspired straight from the movie where a room is turned into a flying contraption with a transparent floor (what a great ride that would make on it’s own). I want to take the audience on that journey, and so the idea would be for the entire theater to transform. The theater walls would disappear revealing screens about 5-10 feet past the moldings. The screen would extend through the wings and around the back of the stage. Ideally the stage and moldings might be able to move and tilt some to really give a flying illusion. The audience would fly around the town in a show stopper of a sequence.
For the climax, Scrooge would find himself suspending in a storm above a cemetery. Along with that death/Christmas Future/Grim Reaper dude. They would both be flying among heavy wind, rain/snow, and lightning effects. A gigantic tombstone would raise from the ground behind them (likely using the same mechanism as the door from earlier). The stone would be projections for snow and writing effects to slowly reveal Scrooge’s name and years lived.
The projected effects would be enhanced by mechanical reliefs that would be revealed. Finally at the very tip of the climax a pit would open beneath Scrooge, fire spewing out (probably just through lighting and smoke effects. Real flames would be cool but potentially ruin the lighting of the rest of the set). The moment is intended to be extremely dark and tense, channeling absolute fear.
And finally the show would end much as it began, except with tiny Tim on Scrooge’s shoulder of course, the scrim would lower, lights would fade and the live actors and set would transform into the illustrated version.
So what do you think? Hope you all have a happy holiday and a swell new year!