The story "Scrooge & Marley" is a familiar one: author Charles Dickens' tale of a miserable miser coming to see the error of his ways after visits by three revelatory spirits during Christmas.
Only in this version, the miser -- Ben Scrooge (played by Skokie-born David Pevsner) -- is gay. So is his ill-treated assistant Bob Cratchit, who raises five adopted children (including Tiny Tim) with his life partner Drew.
Along the same lines, Scrooge's lesbian niece Freda (as opposed to nephew Fred in the Dickens original) and her partner Mary are expecting their first child. Fezziwig is embodied by former Chicago entertainment scribe and well-known T-shirt devotee/joke puncher-upper Bruce Vilanch -- 'nuff said.
The locally made "Scrooge & Marley" was shot on a shoestring budget during 12 very long days this past May.
Narrated by actor Judith Light of "Who's the Boss?" and "Law and Order: SVU" and co-starring Evanston's own Tim Kazurinsky as Marley's chain-rattling ghost, "Scrooge" has its national premiere Thursday at the Music Box Theatre. It plays there through Dec. 6 and will briefly screen in several other markets across the country.
"It started out more campy, in the vein of 'Hey, let's do something really fun and funky,' " says co-producer (one of many) and co-screenwriter Ellen Stoneking, an Annoyance Theatre veteran. She penned the script with the film's co-director Richard Knight Jr. and, in the early going, their late friend Tim Imse. "But the more we got into it, the more I started thinking of friends of mine who are gay with children and I thought, 'Well, wouldn't they like to sit down to a lovely family movie with people like them?' "
Not everyone was sold on idea, however, Sun-Times' Mike Thomas explains. When it was announced on the Huffington Post that Barbra Streisand's out son Jason Gould would sing the film's closing credits song, readers quickly registered their displeasure.
Read all about it here.