5 Tips from the Guthrie Theater’s Scrooge on Surviving “A Christmas Carol”

This year marks the fourth go-round for Guthrie Scrooge portrayer J.C. Cutler, who appears in every minute of the show. Here are tips from the hardest-working man in Twin Cities (holiday) theater on getting through the grind in one piece.

  1. Take Care of your Body—At times, there are as many as five A Christmas Carol performances in three days and 11 in a week. “I have to get good sleep, good food, naps,” Cutler says. “I see a chiropractor every week, I get massages and stay hydrated—all the kinds of things an athlete would normally do.”

  2. Look after your tools—“I don’t speak a good deal offstage,” he says of his voice, without which there isn’t a show. “And I never go onstage without warming up—I usually get a cold or something at some point, and then I have to be really careful.”

  3. Peak at the right time—“The first year in rehearsals I was screaming and jumping around, so by opening night I was pretty physically stressed,” says Cutler. Now he brings his energy up slowly and saves the big emotions for the paying audiences. 

  4. Stay connected—A Christmas Carol is such a group undertaking that everyone needs to be close-knit. “I try to spend time talking to everyone and making sure we’re connecting, and to get to know the young kids in the show.” 

  5. Focus on the big picture—“What really feeds me is my extracurricular life,” Cutler says, ticking off hobbies that include volunteering with the Animal Humane Society, growing orchids, and playing classical guitar. “It all starts with my wife and three kids—none of this would have any meaning for me if I hadn’t built up a rich life outside the theater.”