There is a new face who will be shouting “Bah Humbug!” on stage during this year’s production of “A Christmas Carol” at Theatre Baton Rouge. Now playing in the role of the bitter miser Ebenezer Scrooge is local actor Bill Corcoran.
Corcoran has decades of experience as an actor, playing roles in New York theaters as well as the theatre scene in Baton Rouge. Born in Lafayette, Corcoran got his first taste of live entertainment as the son of a television personality during the ‘50s and ‘60s in Lafayette.
“I always enjoyed the interaction…being in front of a large group of people,” Corcoran said. “And that was my first inkling. That I should be on a television show and dress up when I was five years old. I always had that ‘being in front of people’ sort of desire. I always knew I wanted to do that, but it was always competing between my desire to do that and my desire to put food in my mouth. It’s always been a part of me.”
Corcoran went to school at University of Louisiana-Lafayette where he obtained a degree in theatre, training in the areas of acting, voice and dance. After performing in dinner theatre and a few stage productions, Corcoran made his way up north to New York. By day he waited tables, but at night he could be found performing on the Broadway stage.
“I did musical comedy primarily,” Corcoran said. “I did some touring, and some summer stock [theatre]. After my last Broadway show, I sort of got out of the business for about 15 years, but I kept my foot in the door. I did some commercials and things of that nature. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to do some of the things I’ve done.”
After living in the Big Apple for 30 years, Corcoran moved back to Baton Rouge with his wife so she could take care of her elderly father. Easing into retirement, Corcoran currently works part time at Nino’s Italian Restaurant on Bluebonnet.
The opportunity to act again arose when Corcoran became involved with Theatre Baton Rouge, and he landed the part of Mayor Shinn in “Music Man” and Shelly Levene in “Glengarry Glen Ross.” One of Corcoran’s favorite things about coming to the Red Stick is that it has given him richer acting opportunities.
“I get to do parts that I would never have been cast in as a professional actor in New York,” Corcoran said. “I would never have been cast as Shelly Levene…I’m not that type, but here I’m able to stretch my acting chops.”
“A Christmas Carol” will be his third performance at TBR and there was no other role he wanted more than the bitter old miser.
“Scrooge is the most interesting character,” Corcoran said. “He goes through different phases while every other character pretty much stays the same. I’m looking forward to mean Mr. Scrooge and I’m looking forward to happy Mr. Scrooge and all the stuff that comes in between.”
It was during the rehearsal process for “Glengarry Glen Ross” when Corcoran was approached by fellow cast mate Kurt Hauschild, who is the co-director of “A Christmas Carol” along with Jack Lampert.
“He says, ‘Why don’t you come out, and audition for Scrooge?’” Corcoran said. “I said ‘OK,’ and that’s what happened.”
With rehearsals underway, Corcoran is looking forward to expanding his repertoire as well as the rehearsal process itself because a lot of creative work will be done.
“It’s going to be a challenge, but I’m looking forward to it. I like to get under the skin and the character and try to understand him,” Corcoran said. “I find that the best decisions are made in the context of the rehearsal period. I feel very validated when I tackle a role, and it comes off positively.”
This will be the first production of “A Christmas Carol” without Mike Katchmer in the lead role. According to Corcoran, audiences will still see a different show.
“Every production is different…and every night is different,” Corcoran said. “The previous gentleman was an excellent guy, but I’m different. He’s tall, skinny and bald, and I’m sort of short, chubby and got gray hair.”
But you won’t see just physical differences in the role of Scrooge. The journey of Scrooge from one type of person into another is Corcoran’s favorite aspect of the Christmas Carol story, and he plans on bringing some of his own aspects into the role.
“I’m going to bring myself to the role because I can’t bring anyone else because I don’t know them as well as I know myself. But I know I’m grumpy,” Corcoran said, who has received several comments about being perfect for the role.
But there is a lot more to being Scrooge than just a foul disposition.
“Scrooge has got more money than I have,” Corcoran said. “There’s a lot of obvious differences. I’m much better looking than Scrooge could ever be, and I’m not mean to my coworkers. As far as likeness, Scrooge has a pretty good sense of humor, so I’m going to try to bring some of that out. I’m looking forward to doing the Scrooge role. It’s exciting.”
“A Christmas Carol” will run from December 8–19. Performances will be Thursday–Saturday night at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. An ASL interpreted performance will be on Sunday, December 19. Individual tickets are $25; student tickets are $20, and groups of 10 or more are $20 each. To purchase tickets or for more information, please contact the box office at (225)-924-6496 or visit theatrebr.org.
Photo by Nicholas Martino.