Gregg Jones, best known for his 16-year stint in the role of Jacob Marley, takes over for the venerable Rusty Salling as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Hippodrome State Theatre’s annual holiday production of the Dickens classic. There’s also a new director this year in Niall McGinty.
Earlier this month, dozens of pairs of shoes in all shapes and sizes lined a long hallway outside the rehearsal room on the third floor of the Hippodrome State Theatre. The costume department had placed them there for the large cast of A Christmas Carol, the Hipp’s annual holiday presentation that opens to the public Saturday afternoon.
This season, actor Gregg Jones will fill a particularly large pair of those shoes—at least figuratively speaking. He will be taking over the role of Ebenezer Scrooge from Rusty Salling, who had performed the play’s signature character for 24 consecutive years.
Salling is taking a well-needed break for health reasons. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with sinus cancer. The news sent shockwaves through the Hippodrome family.
“We took it very hard,” said Lauren Warhol Caldwell, the theatre’s artistic director and longtime friend of Salling. “But there was never a moment that we did not rally around him with every fiber of our being. Rusty is a fighter and was determined to do whatever it took to try and beat this.
“We promised to take care of him, and through his determination and perhaps some divine intervention—and lots of love to him—he did beat it.”