Southwark Playhouse is planning to stage A Christmas Carol with help from those living and working in the area known to its author Charles Dickens.
The announcement was made by Lord of the Rings star and Southwark Playhouse patron Andy Serkis during a gala reception at the theatre to recruit sponsors.
Early sponsors were welcomed by carol singers before being served canapes supplied by nearby Magdalen Restaurant and drinks by Jensen's London-Distilled Dry Bermondsey Gin.
Afterwards guests were able to enjoy a snowy scene from the forthcoming production starring Richard Bremmer as Ebenezer Scrooge and Steve Hansell as Bob Cratchett.
Among others performing in the preview was Kyle Brown, a pupil at Charles Dickens Primary School in Lant Street, who is playing a 'small carolling boy' having taken part in the theatre's youth and community programme.
When the entertainment suddenly stopped director Ellie Jones announced: "We can't afford to do the rest of it!"
In appealing for more sponsors, Andy Serkis said that £100 would pay for two members of the cast from the community to receive travel and other expenses, £500 would cover the laundry bill and £900 would meet the insurance cover. The total costume bill is estimated at £2500.
It is planned to have a twenty-strong community cast of all ages appearing alongside professional actors in an ambitious production which will include a sense of promenade with the audience being clerks, moving around with the ghost and joining in Mr Fezziwig's ball.
Andy Serkis – who played Rigaud in the recent BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit – described the theatre's Tooley Street location as "the epicentre of Dickens' territory".
"Don't be a scrooge!" heckled Ellie as Andy added that supporters can give through the Gift Aid scheme to increase the value of their donation.