In this adaptation, six actors play over 40 characters to bring Dickens’ novel to life. That requires actors with broad range who are capable of making each character distinctive and memorable. In addition to costume changes, the actors create characters by changing their voices and their physicality. Here is how Doug Hara, who plays Herbert Pocket and Mr. Wopsle among others, created some of the many characters he plays:
In this play we switch characters so often, and sometimes for just a line or two at a time, so it seems friendly to the audience to make sure I make clear and strong choices and lean deeply into those choices with each character turn.
Herbert is Pip’s true and loyal friend. He is highly educated and cultured, so with Herbert I have focused the most on speaking with proper high-class British elocution. But he also needs to be accessible and likable, so I’ve placed him in a higher register and I always give him a smile to keep him warm.
If there is a clown in this play, Mr. Wopsle is probably it. He is a provincial man with grandiose ambitions. I’ve given him a bit of a crooked eyebrow-y smile, and an artificially deep resonant affectation. When I speak I’m conjuring a little Sam the Eagle from the Muppets and Ted Baxter from the Mary Tyler Moore Show…only British.
I literally say 5 or 6 words as the Coachman. Years of whiskey and cigars, gravelly and rough and lower class. A Cockney Tom Waits.
The Sergeant: He’s an imposing character who interrupts Christmas dinner and hunts down convicts. As the shortest person in the cast (by a lot), I’ve taken to leaping onto a chair as soon as I enter (Seriously, I stand on a chair so I can look down on everyone. It totally helps). I put my voice in as deep a resonance as I can muster without sounding fake. He’s an authentic fellow.