Charles Shaughnessy of ‘The Nanny’ fame to take on role of Scrooge in Queen CityBy PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader November 29. 2017 12:41PM
If you go...WHAT: 'A Christmas Carol'
WHEN: Friday through Dec. 23
WHERE: The Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester
TICKETS: $25 to $46
Star of stage and small screen Charles Shaughnessy can’t wait to unleash his take on the role of Ebenezer Scrooge on New Hampshire audiences this Christmas season.
A West Coast resident, he is also looking forward to spending December in the Granite State.
“Do you have any snow there yet?” asks the British-born Shaughnessy, reached via phone just before the Thanksgiving holiday. “I’m enjoying some time in the sun here.”
A longtime holiday tradition, “A Christmas Carol” returns to the Palace Theatre for a three-week run in the Queen City. Shows on opening weekend are 7:30 p.m. Friday; 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday; and noon and 5 p.m. Sunday.
Based on the book by Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol” takes place in London in the mid-1800s and is a tale of redemption centered around the bitter and selfish Ebenezer Scrooge, whom in the midst of the holiday season learns the value of giving and what it means to be kind to the less fortunate.
The Manchester production marks the first time Shaughnessy has played Scrooge. He’s best known to American audiences as Mr. Sheffield, a high-society father of three, on the ’90s CBS sitcom “The Nanny” opposite Fran Drescher, a shrill-voiced fashionista from Flushing who comes to care for the children.
Shaughnessy also starred for years in the role of Shane Donovan on the daytime series “Days of Our Lives.” He recently portrayed Saint John Powers on AMC’s critically acclaimed series “Mad Men.”
Shaughnessy’s many stage appearances include the triple Tony Award-winning Broadway musical “Urinetown” and Pasadena Playhouse’s celebrated production of “Orson’s Shadow,” as well as perennial favorites including “Camelot” and “My Fair Lady.”
Most recently he has been playing a creepy author named Christopher Plover in SyFy’s breakout show “The Magicians,” and he appeared in TNT’s drama “Good Behavior.”
Born and raised in London, England, Shaughnessy came from a show business family. His father was the principal writer and script editor on “Upstairs, Downstairs,” and his mother, an actress, and his brother, David, a director and producer in television.
After graduating from Eton College, Shaughnessy got his bachelor of arts degree in law at the Magdalene College of Cambridge University.
“Despite a lifelong love of the theater, I thought it was about time someone in my family did something sensible,” he said.
Upon graduation, however, Shaughnessy returned to his first love — acting — and enrolled in drama school in London, where he met American-born actress Susan Fallender, with whom he moved to California in 1983. Shaughnessy first performed across the Los Angeles theater scene, along the way appearing at the Ahmanson Theatre opposite the late Alan Bates in “A Patriot for Me” and portraying Henry Higgins in the North Shore Theater production of “My Fair Lady.” He’s recently wrapped a science-fiction movie called “Moontrap: Target Earth.”
Off stage, it is a little-known fact that he actually is a legitimate member of the English aristocracy, since inheriting the title of Lord Shaughnessy, the fifth. He is baron of Montreal and Ashford, County Limerick. He has been married to Fallender for more than 30 years.
He’s looking forward to giving audiences a look at his take on Scrooge.
“Certainly, most audiences are familiar with the story and the character,” said Shaughnessy. “And many have played the part before me. The trick is to put a little bit of yourself in there, draw from something within your own experiences, and use it to make your portrayal unique.”
In the holiday tale, Scrooge, an elderly man with a grim disposition, is visited by his former business partner, Bob Marley, who comes from beyond the grave with news about three upcoming hauntings. The ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future will show Scrooge the true meaning of Christmas. Scrooge witnesses the decisions he has made that influenced his life and learns the importance of kindness.
That holds especially true when it comes to Scrooge’s clerk, Bob Cratchit, who is struggling at home to provide for his family. Scrooge sees the conditions that Cratchit family must endure and the poor health of Tiny Tim, and finally puts relationships before money.
Shaughnessy, who arrived in Manchester this week for rehearsals, said he has never had a problem getting “up to speed” with fellow actors in time for a show’s opening night, even with performers he’s never met before, like those he will be on stage with at the Palace.
“Actors are actors. You can pick them out in any crowd,” said Shaugnessy. “We all have similar stories, similar traits, that make us easy to work with. This show will end, and I may cross paths with some of my fellow actors in the future, but some I may never see again. But I will never forget working with them.”
Shaughnessy said he is looking forward to spending some time in the Granite State around the holidays.
“I have a friend with a place on Lake Sunapee and another friend not too far away in Massachusetts,” said Shaughnessy. “It looks like our schedule will allow time to visit with them. I’m looking forward to some time in New Hampshire.”