The actor is playing the squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and he wants his version of Dickens’ character to be the most cold hearted anyone has seen.
Scrooge’s catchphrase ‘bah humbug!’ will be spat from his thin blue lips with such venom that audiences at Derby Theatre will recoil in disgust.
At least that is what Jim is aiming to achieve.
“The kids have to dislike me and think ‘what an awful monster’ because then at the end Scrooge’s redemption will be all the stronger,” said the actor in a chat with artsbeat.
“If the audience doesn’t care then it just won’t work when he comes to beg for forgiveness and changes his ways – so I am working to be as curmudgeonly and unpleasant as possible.
“I have to say though this production looks really spectacular and the sound is used to great effect – especially the rattling chains and I am sure that everyone will be very, very scared.”
Jim, 67, has worked as an actor, comedian, actor-teacher, street theatre performer and voice-over artiste during his career.
He has a wealth of stage and TV credits to his name including being a member of the National Theatre Company for three years and in other theatres starring in productions of Yes, Prime Minister, King Lear and Treasure Island.
Jim’s TV appearances include Holby City, Doctors, New Tricks and 55 Degrees North.
Avid watchers of children’s TV in the late 80s and early 90s will recognise Jim from playing the children’s football team manager Jossy in two series of Jossy’s Giants and Ben Morgan in the phenomenally popular Grange Hill, both for the BBC.
He is no stranger to spending Christmas on the stage and as well as playing Long John Silver in Treasure Island he has also appeared in Babes in the Wood and played Captain Hook in Peter Pan.
He says this Dickens classic, which has been faithfully adapted by Neil Duffield to retain all its magic and sparkle, is quite a challenge but one he is going to relish.
His family will be visiting but he says his three-year-old grandson will be too young to watch him in the show.
“I think Hansel and Gretel which I understand is also on at the theatre will more suitable for him,” he said.
Joining Jim in the cast of A Christmas Carol are Christopher Price as Jacob Marley and Mr Fezziwig, Dan Willis as Bob Cratchitt, Kate Robson-Stuart as Mrs Cratchitt, Derby actor Esme Sears as Belle and other characters.
Adam Horvath, who joins the cast under The Brian Weaver Fellowship scheme, plays Fred and the young Scrooge.
Two actors who are also working as assistant stage managers will also be joining the cast – Yana Penrose who is a relative newcomer to the stage and Daniel David, a University of Derby Arts graduate who is making his professional debut.
Derby Theatre artistic director Sarah Brigham said: “I am thrilled with the wonderful cast we have assembled for our big festive production for this year plus the incredibly talented creative team we have on board.
“We will provide audiences of all ages with a fresh, yet faithful, big, bold and magical version of Dickens’ classic tale.
“Expect a festive theatrical experience with traditional carols, original Christmas music, spectacular ghostly goings-on, the adorable Cratchitt family, including Tiny Tim, and, of course, the iconic Scrooge.
“I am also delighted that a young company of local young people will be joining the ensemble company.”
A Christmas Carol runs from December 5-January 4 and is recommended for children over seven years old. For ticket details go to http://www.derbytheatre.co.uk or call the box office on 01332 593939.
For children aged three to seven, Hansel and Gretel is being presented by the Red Earth Theatre in The Studio at Derby Theatre from December 9-28.