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As if playing the part of Ebenezer Scrooge isn’t intimidating enough, Sam Gregory has to fill the bedroom slippers of a performer who handled the role masterfully for a decade. “He was the best Scrooge I’ve ever seen,” Gregory says of Philip Pleasants, who spent 10 years channeling the old miser in the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ yearly production of A Christmas Carol before retiring from the role this past year. Then again, Gregory is no hack himself. He was cast as Scrooge in this year’s play, which opens November 25, because he can switch quickly from scary to scared—a versatility he showed as a priest under suspicion in Doubt and as the windbag Polonius in Hamlet. Plus, Gregory had plenty of time to study Pleasants’ Scrooge; he played Bob Cratchit at the DCPA six times and served as Pleasants’ understudy in 2015. Even with all Gregory’s experience, he has trepidations associated with taking on the time-traveling, bah-humbug-spewing, ultimately redeemed character we love to hate. “I’m scared people won’t like me,” Gregory says. Sorry, Scrooge, but in this villainous role, you might have to get used to that.