About This Blog

I really like theatre, and I like writing and talking about it.

This blog is mostly about my relationship with theatre, the moments that make me fall in love with this art form, and the times when we don't always get along.

I'll be writing about things that I like, that I think are good and interesting and want to share. I will probably also write about things that I don't quite get, or think are wierd. I may also write about things that aren't theatre, strictly speaking, because it's my blog and I can.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Probably The Best Thing I Ever Saw- Christmas Edition

I grew up in a small suburb to the Northwest of Boston, and every couple of years around Christmas there would be a trip to see a holiday show. The North Shore Music Theatre in Beverly was very close by, so we would often go see their production of A Christmas Carol.

I always loved this production. The North Shore Music Theatre is a theater in the round, so you would think that sets would have to be very minimal, but they managed to do so much by flying in set elements from the overhead grid, or with changes to the stage lifts and revolve (I swear that stage does something different every time I go there, between revolving and sliding platforms, lifts, stairs, etc) and of course strong lighting and costuming.

There's a couple of things that I think really work about the production: the excellent use of music, including both traditional Christmas carols, and incidental music written for the show. The entrance of the jovial Ghost of Christmas Present (on stilts) singing "The Boar's Head Carol" is always a huge thrill.

Josh Tower as the Ghost of Christmas Present. Photo by Paul Lyden
Although recently they've gone in the direction of the traditional looming, robed figure, the Ghost of Christmas Future used to appear as an ominous version of Young Scrooge, with a creepy slow-motion walk.

Christmas future from the 2007 Production:

Jeff Edgerton as The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come. Photo by Paul Lyden.

Their Jacob Marley was also super creepy/cool:

Tom Staggs as Jacob Marley. Photo by Paul Lyden

One of the interesting things about seeing this show multiple times over the years was experiencing the changes they made. For example, Marley used to emerge from a trap door in the floor of the stage, surrounded by creepy green light and smoke. Then I saw it again years later, and the trap door opened up and the smoke poured out--and he flew in screaming from the rafters! It was a well-crafted bit of misdirection which absolutely scared the hell out of me.

But this is a blog about my relationship with theatre. And this went from being a show I enjoyed to a show I loved my senior year of high school. I'd been working really hard all fall (no senioritis for me), and had finished applying to colleges and had just been through a really frustrating round of auditions for university drama programs. I was feeling burnt-out and discouraged.

And then my mom won a pair of tickets to A Christmas Carol at a church auction as a surprise for me! I was looking forward to seeing the show, but I really couldn't anticipate the feelings it would stir inside me. We had excellent seats (although there are few bad seats in that house), so I could easily see the actors' expressions, and the detail on the costumes. The show was completely transporting, and I remember this very clearly: it was almost the end of the first act, and Young Scrooge's fiance Belle was tearfully breaking up with him, and I thought to myself:

 "Oh, yes. This is why I want to do this".

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