“It’s sideburn season,” says actor Bill McNulty, 67, instinctively running a hand over his freshly grown muttonchops. No manscaping here; these babies are authentically Dickensian — 19th-century scraggly and foreboding, the better to play Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, which McNulty will do for the 12th consecutive year at Actors Theatre (Nov. 29 to Dec. 23).
McNulty has lost count of the number of times he’s performed in A Christmas Carol (“I can’t help you there”), but according to the folks at Actors, he’s appeared in 26, including performances as Charles Dickens (the narrator) and Ebenezer whipping-boy Bob Cratchit. His first performance? Cratchit in ’76.
“It’s a complicated, emotional evening onstage,” McNulty says of playing one of theater’s most famous villains. “The emotional demands of the role are like playing King Lear. It’s a dark night of the soul.”
A native of New Jersey, McNulty migrated to Actors in 1976 at the behest of then-director Jon Jory and, but for a four-year sojourn to New York, has been a fixture of the local theater scene. McNulty and his seasonal sideburns also appear as vampire-hunter Van Helsing in Dracula. But it’s Scrooge who may haunt audiences most. “Aren’t we all just a bit like him?” McNulty says. “Sometimes too shut off from the world?”
Photo by Chris Witzke This article appears in the December 2013 issue of Louisville Magazine. To subscribe, visit Loumag.com