There’s a new theater company in town.
This year, the Waterloo Bridge Theatre Company will present its production of "Scrooge: A Christmas Carol," directed by J. Brandon Hill, at the Impact Theatre in Prospect Heights.
The play was previously staged at the 8-year-old company’s former home at West 38th Street at Seventh Avenue in Manhattan as well as at the Port Authority Bus Terminal two years ago.
Then their landlord raised their rent.
"He raised the rent to astronomical levels," Hill told GO Brooklyn, which forced the off-off-Broadway troupe way off Broadway and into Fort Greene. They came to Brooklyn’s ART/NY Space on South Oxford Street to perform for the past year, but were still without a home.
Tim Lewis, artistic director of the Impact Theatre, took Waterloo in.
"I’ve known Tim for a long time," said Hill, the founder and artistic director of Waterloo. "I acted in his theater company in Manhattan. Right before we got our own theater in Manhattan, we shared his in Manhattan. [Waterloo’s] mega-long range goal, however, is to get our own theater, but rent is just so expensive."
The Impact Theatre space allows Waterloo to do more mainstage productions, such as "Scrooge" now and a "Science-fiction epic version of ’The Tempest’ in March," explained Hill.
"Moving to the Impact Theatre is an exciting step for the Waterloo Bridge Theatre Company because it gives us the opportunity to become a permanent fixture in the burgeoning arts community in Brooklyn," said Hill, a Park Slope resident.
The Impact Theatre currently hosts a theater company of the same name, under the artistic direction of Lewis. The Impact Theatre company, also a displaced Midtown Manhattan troupe, arrived in December 2000, and Teatro Experimental Blue Amigos (TEBA), a bilingual theater company, joined Impact in June 2001. (Since then, TEBA has changed from Impact’s partner to only renting the theater for performances.)
The theater was formerly occupied by the Boundtospeak Theatre Inc. The theater survived under the name Underhill 190 for just one year before Boundtospeak threw in the towel and Lewis took over.
"[Waterloo] does really good work, like TEBA," said Lewis. "They have a few things going like an improv group and a comedy improv group. They are very aggressive. I’m very happy to have them."
Hill is confident that his company’s interactive approach to staging classic and new works will enable Waterloo to have more success and longevity than its predecessors, while keeping tickets at affordable, off-off-Broadway prices.
"It’s always a bit of a gamble, short of bringing a few Hollywood stars into your show," said Hill. "But we put theatricality back into theater. We try to figure out what theater can offer that the other arts can’t and, hopefully, that will excite the people.
"We really want to be part of the community. We really want to bring down the fourth wall, to talk to the community and hear what they want to see," he emphatically said.
Hill wants to take it a step further; he’ll invite "Scrooge" audiences to sing along and to come on stage during the play’s party scene.
"We took Charles Dickens’ classic novel of Yuletide redemption and adapted it for the theater by combining his original language and our commitment to making the audience an integral part of the production," explained Hill.
"It’s great that ’A Christmas Carol’ is at Madison Square Garden and can have a real, live snowstorm," said Hill. "But we would like people to come to this show and walk away feeling connected to the characters.
"They’ll be able to say, ’We got on stage and danced with the Fezziwigs.’ It’s more touching that way."
The Waterloo Bridge Theatre Company’s production of "Scrooge: A Christmas Carol" will be performed at the Impact Theatre [190 Underhill Ave. at St. Johns Place, (212) 502-0796] Dec. 5-22, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 pm and Sundays at 3 pm. All tickets are $12. On Sat., Dec. 21, the company will hold a benefit party following the performance. Tickets for the show and party are $20. For more information, visit their Web site at www.waterl