Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Wassail!

Hello again! Opening night has come and gone --- and was fantastic! We've been doing two shows a day since Friday, and one school matinee today; so the festivities have begun! The energy is palpable; in the audience and among the cast and crew. It's an amazing story with heart, and a timeless classic for everyone. As I have said, I am incredibly honored to be a part of the show, and notice always a larger, more silly looking grin on my face backstage before I go on each performance. There's only two more public performances (this Friday) so get on it!

So what does an actor in Hanover Theatre's A Christmas Carol do on an evening off? Why, make a big batch of Wassail of course! What?! You don't know what Wassail is? Well, in the life of a Hanover Theatre Christmas Carol actor it is two things (well, maybe two and a half ). One: an AMAZING arrangement of a traditional Christmas carol by Ralph Vaughn Williams that we sing together during the Fezziwig Party scene (The scene with the Doodlebobs!!! - Look it up in our blog!) when Ebenezer Scrooge visits himself as a young man. The merriment of the Fezziwig party completely embodies the joyous tradition. Two (and a half): Wassailing is a tradition of caroling around the holidays to bless the upcoming crop of apples. It means literally "good health," and became associated with a warmed, mulled cider offered to wassailers for their song. I decided that tonight would be the perfect night to make this traditional drink for the holidays. So I scoured the interwebs and found the following lovely recipe and made it for a holiday party I am attending tomorrow night. Enjoy! (Please note: the beverage does contain alcohol, I did find a non-alcoholic version here).

Ingredients:

8 to 10 small apples
1 large peeled orange stuck with whole cloves
8 to 10 teaspoons brown sugar
2 bottles dry red wine
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 cloves
Small handful of blueberries
2 or 3 cinnamon sticks
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
2 cups sugar
1/2 gallon of apple cider
1 splash whiskey

Directions:
First, core each apple and  fill with a teaspoon of brown sugar. Place into a baking pan and fill the pan 1/8 of an inch full of water.

Cored apples.
Filled with sugar and ready to bake!
 Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Then, peel the orange. Next stick the orange with cloves, about a half an inch apart. It should look similar to this:

Clove-stuck orange.
 Then place alongside the apples and bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.


Remove the orange and the apples and puncture the orange in several places with a fork. Next, in a large saucepan or pot, combine the red wine, cider, ginger, cloves, allspice, blueberries, cinnamon, sugar, and the water from the baked orange and apples. Slowly, bring the mixture to a simmer, cover and let sit on low heat for fifteen minutes (Do not allow to boil). 

Wassail, wassail all up in the pot!
 Add a splash of whiskey, to taste. Pour into a large punch bowl, steaming hot and float the apples and oranges. Serve with a stick of cinnamon. Preferably in a "green maple" bowl. Makes enough for about 15 jolly wassailers!


Oops! Got to head to bed! I've got to jump up for another matinee tomorrow morning at 10! Can't wait!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Lipstick Trick

The benefit of sharing a dressing room with 16 women? All the stories & tips! Holidays, boys, auditions, food, makeup...all possible topics at any given moment in the ladies' room a 1/2 hour before the show starts. The female cast of "A Christmas Carol" agreed that the following tip from the fantastic Ilyse Robbins (Choreographer/Mrs. Fezziwig) should be shared with our blog supporters. Enjoy!

video

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Opening Night!

So I am far too tired to write a lengthy blog as we have performed 4 shows in the last 48hrs and have 2 more "today". Monday we will have really earned our Day Off. But before then, I wanted to take a second and share some pics from our Opening Night party on Friday! You can especially tell on the kids' faces, what a sense of accomplishment an actors feels when their show finally opens. We've had four great audiences, so far; I can't wait to share "A Christmas Carol" with even more people. :)




Carola LaCoste (SM) Peter Adams (Xmas Present) Tyler Bellmon (Young Scrooge)


Christie Lee Gibson (Fiddler)/ ME/ Micah Tougas (Belle)



Peter Stamoulis (Tiny Tim)/ Tori Heinlein (Xmas Past)/ Samantha Keville (Fan)




Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Twelve Hour Journey into Tech

- 12:00pm -
Call time/Costumes

- 1:00pm -
Joelle Kross, Micah Tougas, Peter Adams, and Eric McGowan still happy on hour 2!

- 2:00 pm -
Joelle Kross and Ilyse Robbins start to get bored, but they still have a smile on their faces.

- 3:00pm -
Micah Tougas and myself start forcing some smiles.

- 4:00pm -
Joelle Kross and I start getting loopy while waiting for Fezziwigs Party.

- 5:00pm -
Dinner Break

- 6:00pm -
We are still eating.

- 7:00 -
Actors are back in costume and happy to have food in their stomachs! I am not lying when I say buttons broke and costumes didn't fit after dinner.

- 8:00pm -
Girls start showing their ankles at Fezziwigs Party!

- 9:00pm -
"Look at my math!" I start getting bored and doing math in my counting house book. Something actors rarely do, and when we do it usually isn't right.

- 10:00pm -
Tori Heinlein gets really bored and sits on the job, while Micah Tougas and I entertain ourselves with lights and weird voices.

- 11:00pm -
Scrooge (Dale Place) is caught playing Angry Birds on set.

- 12:00am -
Story time with Peter Adams right as the end of the day is called!

I will be updating you all tomorrow! Another twelve hour day!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Fabulous Feet

or more specifically fabulous shoes! All the actors have finally completed their costume fittings with the talented Gail Astrid Buckley. You get a lollipop after a doctor's appointment , but after a fitting with Gail you get rehearsals shoes! It is a luxury to be able to work with your "show shoes" early on in your rehearsal process, but it truly makes a difference in the final product. This way the actors are able to have time to get comfortable doing their dance steps, lifts, any brisk movements, in the correct footwear. So if adjustments need to be made to the choreography or footwear, there is ample time.




Lynne Rosenberg (Mrs. Dilber) zips up her show boots/ a pile of shoes wait for their owners at rehearsal


Today was our last day in our rehearsal space. On Tuesday we start rehearsing on the stage in full costume with lights and sets and the mighty Wurlitzer! There will be so many new elements to get use to. I am very thankful that our fabulous shoes will greet us like old friends, first thing on Tuesday.


Tyler Bellmon practicing dance steps/ Joelle Kross laces up/ Lisa Dempsey is ready to Wassail!







Eric McGowan (Xmas Future) with ASM Candice Mongellow. He is probably the most thankful out of all that he has time to practice in his shoes!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Boo!

Mrs. Cratchit here! So we have 3 days until we get onto the stage. It's very exciting to have so many pieces together. In the last 2 rehearsals we have been doing run thrus with stops and starts. As you might have guessed that means we run the scenes until Troy stops them to fix or change something.

Today we stopped on one of my favorite parts. It's early in the first act just before the ghost of Jacob Marley arrives. Some audience members might just think they are hearing wind or some prerecorded voices, but in every production I've appeared in just before Jacob Marley appears the actors all assemble in the wings and get to make spooky noises! At 16 yrs old in my first "A Christmas Carol" production at Foothills Theatre I remember thinking it was so cool that the whole cast got to be the voice of the ghosts for a brief period of time. Mostly the actors chant "Ebenezer" or "Scrooge" during this scene or try to sound like the wind, but there is some flexibility within that. It is so fun to play with different ways to use your voice or different words you can interject in rehearsals. Today Troy stopped us for a couple of reasons during the "spooky noises" ... not enough consonants, not enough wind. I am sure we will have it perfect by opening, but until then I am happy practicing because it makes me feel a bit like a 7year old with all my friends on Halloween! "SssssscroooooooogGGGGGe" ! I love my job <3










Dale Place in last year's production of "A Christmas Carol" at the Hanover, right before a ghost arrives! Can't you hear our spooky voices in the background???


Thursday, December 8, 2011

A season of waiting and preparing

Christie Gibson here, the fiddler of the cast.

Growing up in my family, the month between Thanksgiving and Christmas was, as it is for many people, a time to decorate the house and get people presents, to bake special treats and spend time with loved ones. All of these things were part of the preparations for Christmas Day. We also went to church every Sunday, lit the candles each week for Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace, and put another ornament on the Advent calendar every morning. With each of these rituals, I keenly felt the anticipation, the excitement, the waiting that marks the season of Advent. It was often hard as a kid - I didn't want to wait! But ultimately having to wait and prepare added suspense and made Christmas Day all the more exciting.

Now, as an adult, I'm preparing and waiting in a slightly different way. I'm still singing lots of carols and sharing lots of baked goods with my family and this great cast. We're also preparing our lines, our choreography, and for me, my violin playing, so that we'll be ready when opening night comes. We're getting to the point where we know what we need to do and are itching to get it out in front of the audience. But there is still a lot of preparing and polishing to do, so we have to wait another whole week! It's hard, just like when my sisters and I were kids. But I know opening night will come, just like Christmas always did.

I can't wait!

Monday, December 5, 2011

A Cookie Carol

Hello Everyone!

This is my first time contributing an entry to this blog, and I must admit, I wasn't sure what I'd write about. But I remembered, sitting here at my laptop, that a cast mate suggested I blog about what I bake. For me, like many of my other cast mates, this show is more than another job, it's a holiday tradition. And like most other holiday traditions, this one includes many, many baked goods.
Our director, Troy, often jokes that baking some of my signature sweets is part of my contract. I don't want to take the risk of finding out that this isn't a joke, and so...I bake! But I also bake because I love it, and because, I think and hope, my fellow cast and crew members do, too.

So far, I've made Spice Cake Whoopie Pies with Eggnog Cream Filling and Egg Biscuits. There will be Red Velvet Cake Balls, Chocolate Covered Oreos, Snow Ball Cookies and possibly even Chocolate Cinnamon Croissants in the near future.

But I must admit, with rehearsals, the commute and other obligations, I don't have much time to do everything from scratch. So I thought I'd take this opportunity and use this platform to share my first two (semi-scratch) recipes of the season with you, Dear Reader!

Spice Cake Whoopie Pies

Cake:
1 boxed cake mix (I used spice cake!)
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Combine ingredients and use a small ice cream scoop to place spoonfuls onto a lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes. Let cool completely.

Filling:
3/4 cup powdered sugar
3 oz. cream cheese
3 heaping tblsp. marshmallow Fluff
1 stick butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup eggnog

Combine ingredients until smooth. Spoon between two cooled whoopie pie halves. Eat and enjoy!

And for the sweet, moist and yummy...

Egg Biscuits (my Nana's recipe)

Combine:
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 1/4 stick of butter (softened)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

Slowly add 2 1/2 cups of flour. You can start with a hand mixer, but then you might want to do it by hand. The dough will be very sticky!

Once combined, form into balls, press onto a baking sheet and bake at 350 until cooked, 10-12 minutes. Biscuits should not brown.

While baking, make the icing. Combine:
1 tblsp. melted butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar
2-4 tblsp. milk

When the biscuits are done baking but still warm, spread on the icing. I top mine with rainbow or red, white and green nonpareils. Great when they're still warm, but just as amazing once cool!


Hopefully, I'll be baking and sharing more recipes soon. But that's all for now!

Cheers,
Kim Kalunian, cast member

Day Off

At the end of the “work through” of A Christmas Carol in the Hanover Theatre rehearsal hall yesterday there was a buzz of excitement because, not only had we successfully pieced together the show, but we also knew what was coming – A day off!

Now, I don’t know about the rest of my cast mates, but my day off isn’t going to be spent lounging around in my pajamas, eating Munchos, and watching ‘Parks and Recreation’ on Netflix. No, sir. There are lines I have to learn, harmonies to think about learning, and lyrics review.

There is also a blog that I was asked to write -- which, of course, will wait until after all the above things are completed.

The theatre is a tough job, man. And not just for the actors. I know Troy (our talented director) is trying to figure out where we can add pyrotechnics this year, Ilyse (our smart choreographer) is coming up with new dance steps – We are adding a number called “Scrooge’s Dream Ballet” featuring Kevin Hadfield as Scrooge, and Carola (one of the best Stage Managers there is) is coloring in her script and trying to stay within the lines. Like I said, it is a job that takes focus -- even on days off.

I would go into much more detail, but reruns of 30ROCK just came on and I am getting distracted. I also need to get out of bed.

Until next time -- Peace and Hairgrease!

Tyler Bellmon, Cast Member

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Cratchit Interviews

Good Evening Bloggerinos,


As promised, here are the interviews I have been working on for the past couple of days. Some of the actors I spoke to in person, some over the phone, and even Facebook was used! During my phone interviews the children did not recognize the name "Annie Kerins", so I had to reintroduce myself as "Mrs. Cratchit". It's funny that in the first week of rehearsal it's easier to be identified as your character than as yourself.


BOB CRATCHIT Interview:

What is it like pretending you have children when you are not a parent?

It's great because I love kids. But this scenario is even better because I get to give them back at the end of the day :)

How many times have you played Bob Cratchit?

Twice. This is my 4th time appearing in a production of "A Christmas Carol". My first production was with Trinity Repertory Theatre and they used a lot of puppets. I was a puppeteer. There was a Scrooge puppet. And Christmas Future was this huge head 15 feet above the stage. There were these 2 arms that we manipulated. Three of us had to operate that puppet. He would come out and point his 6 foot long hands at the grave stone. So that was fun.

My first appearance in the Hanover Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" I played Fred Scrooge. And this will be my second year playing Bob Cratchit.

Do you often play fathers?

Nowadays, yes I do. The first father I played was for a Rhode Island College Fund commercial. In that I play a dad with a little kid who runs around with a box on his head.


And I just finished working at the Beef and Boards Theatre playing George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life". I have gone from playing a father with four kids to playing a father with four kids!

How is George Bailey's family different from Bob Cratchit's family?

They are actually very similar. They are not very well-off, but they're happy. George goes through some hard times, unfortunately, and kind of takes it out on his family, whereas Bob Cratchit never takes anything out on his family. They are different in that way. But financially they have similar struggles, maybe Bob is a little worse off, but the Bailey's do have the Depression to deal with.

At the core George Bailey is a dreamer and very hopeful. Bob Cratchit shares that same hopefulness. I don't know if he is so much of a dreamer, but he has got a very positive outlook on things. Both characters get through these very hard times. And they put their families first.


MARTHA CRATCHIT Interview:

How old are you?

I am 15 years old.

What's it like to play the same part 3 years in a row with different siblings every year?

I think it's really great having different siblings every year because I get to adapt my character to the different family. The first year I did the show, I had younger siblings, and that made my Martha kind of protective of the little kids. But each year they've gotten older (or maybe just taller...) which has given me a chance to make my character grow up a little and not have to constantly "watch out" for the other Cratchit kids onstage (at least that's how I see it).

How is the Cratchit holiday celebration different to your own?

The Cratchit celebration is different from my family's, but only because we're not as religious.

The whole idea of having the family home for Christmas is huge in my house though. Me and my brother are always running around doing activities and both my parents work, so just sitting down and having dinner together is really nice, and must be somewhat like the Cratchit's Christmas because they don't get to see Martha much, Mr. Cratchit works all day, and Mrs. Cratchit must have her hands full with all the kids.








Emily Greenslit, Annie Kerins, Joanna Rosen, Thomas Petrocelli, & Peter Stamoulis >




BELINDA CRATCHIT INTERVIEW:
How did you feel when you were cast as Belinda at the Hanover Theatre?

Well I was very, very, very ecstatic. I am so happy to be playing Belinda. Even though I was in the youth ensemble last year, I didn't know if I would be cast in a part this year. But I DID and I am very happy about that.

Me too. I am glad you are playing my daughter!

Do you have a favorite part in the "Cratchit Table" scene?

Hmm...I do love singing the "Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat"-song. That is a favorite.

Is there anything else you'd like to share with me about the show?

I love "A Christmas Carol". It's a story that never gets old. And Charles Dickens is amazing and he wrote it! The story is incredible and after all this time it's still being performed everywhere. I just love it!

Have you studied "A Christmas Carol" in school yet?

No. Not yet.



PETER CRATCHIT Interview:

How many people are there in your family?

I am an only child.

What's it like to play a character with lots of siblings?

It's kinda nice to have people you like to work with and they get to play your family and can be your friends. It's nice.

Do you have anything else you'd like to share about your character?

Well I appreciate the fact that they use cockney. It helps to kind of shape your character.

There are lots of different actors who have played Cratchit children and I like that I can make my character my own style, something that I can relate to. And Peter is an interesting character in general. I happen to like him. He is kind of a mischievous kid, but he is also very sentimental

How does he feel about his brother and sisters?

I bet sometimes Belinda probably pesters him, but I guess he cuts her some slack for Christmas.
How does he feel about Tiny Tim?

Well you know, everyone loves Tiny Tim. You can't not like him. Tiny Tim is the basis of the show. And he is pretty fragile. Even if Peter didn't get along with him, he has to like him, he takes care of him. Everyone really develops a bond with Tiny Tim even when you're not a character in the play.



TINY TIM Interview:

How old are you?

7

How did you learn your lines?

Before I go to bed I just read my lines very quickly. Usually by myself.
What's it like being carried around by Bob Cratchit?

It feels pretty high. And if I look down I kind of get scared, a little.

I can see why you'd feel that way, Sean is pretty tall.

I agree.

But does it get easier the more you do it?

Yeah.
Are you excited about being in the play?

Yes. Very.








Sean Patrick Hopkins takes a rest during a long rehearsal of carrying Peter Stamoulis on his shoulders.

Friday, December 2, 2011

We R Family! [Team Cratchit]

Hello Bloggers!


Annie Kerins (a.k.a. Mrs. Cratchit) here. We have been in rehearsals for "A Christmas Carol" at the Hanover Theatre for exactly one week. It is so exciting to see all the pieces of the show coming together. This is my 3rd year working at the Hanover Theatre and, even though I am playing the same role, each year is very different. One thing I find fun is getting used to a new Cratchit family. Actors are constantly "matched up" with other actors and put into all sorts of situations with people who might essentially be strangers. A script can be a nice security blanket when you are getting to know someone new, but sooner than later the script is put down. Usually at that point it is easy to get comfortable and feel like a team.


This year the head of Team Cratchit is Sean Patrick Hopkins. Sean played Bob last year, so we are already pretty comfortable working opposite one another. He is wonderful to work with, although he makes me laugh too much! Neither of us have children of our own and I think that might make us more appreciative of our "pretend kids". This year the Cratchit kids are played by Emily Greenslit (Worcester, MA), Thomas Petrocelli (Holden, MA), Joanna Rosen (Marblehead, MA), and as Tiny Tim, Peter Stamoulis (Shrewsbury, MA). This is Joanna's 3rd time playing Martha at the Hanover Theatre and Emily was in the youth ensemble last year. That makes Tom and Peter the newest kids on the block. They seem to be having a good time joining us in the general merriment that is "A Christmas Carol" here at the Hanover Theatre.


-Peter Stamoulis & Thomas Petrocelli


Wednesday was the last time Team Cratchit rehearsed together. We ran the "Cratchit Table" scene for the 2nd time. We finally got to add props and do the scene "off book" (without scripts). Previously, everyone had scripts in hand, Tiny Tim wasn't using the crutch, and there was no goose. So finally, there were cups, plates, a tablecloth, bundles, mashed potatoes, Tim's crutch, and of course, the goose! Working with props requires a lot of specific attention. Even the tablecloth Emily places at the top of the scene has to be folded in a special accordion style by our Assistant Stage Manager, Candice Dale Mongellow, so that the scene runs smoothly. That means everytime we perform the scene Candice has to run over to the prop table and refold/adjust every prop! In addition to working with the props, Joanna got to practice lifting Tiny Tim, and Sean got to practice lifting Emily (Mrs. Cratchit does not get lifted in this show, in case you were wondering.) Everyone is getting more comfortable in the scene-how nice it is to begin to feel like a real family. The next time we will run the scene is Sunday. Can't wait!


Sean Patrick Hopkins & the Goose


In my next blog you can read interviews that I have been conducting with all the Cratchits. :)

"Deck the HALL with boughs of holly"! - Rehearsals for ACC begin!

It’s hard to believe that we have only been in rehearsals for six days and already our company is growing close. Perhaps it is because many are returning to the production for the second, third, fourth or even fifth run, perhaps its the true magic of the story itself. Personally, I believe its the latter. A Christmas Carol has always been a very precious story to me. I think it is purely because absolute Humanity is central in it. It is a tale that all can relate to, and that all can benefit from. Dickens forces us to re-focus on what is truly important in life: love and the way we live in this world in relation to others. It's about giving yourself, wholly, to others. And it's magical, and moving and there are ghosts for crying out loud! My only other exposure to this story comes from Mickey's Christmas Carol and Muppet Christmas Carol, both of which have exciting takes with very different (even aside from the inherently obvious (Muppets v. Disney)) means of telling the same wondrous story.

 


I am fortunate to be playing the character of Belle, Ebenezer Scrooge’s lost love. We see them when they are both very young and possess a deep love for one another. One of the best things about these two characters that we see in Scrooge's (Dale Place*) journey with the Ghost of Christmas Past (played by the lovely Tori Heinlein*) is how youthful and happy they were together. Especially in the Fezziwig Party scene! We get to see Young Ebenezer have fun and dance and show-off and get nervous! It's warm, bright and happy. But then, in deep contrast, we next have the scene where Belle has to leave him. We've worked on that scene once so far, and already Troy (our brilliant director) is helping me discover it's emotional depth (It also helps to have a great scene partner: Tyler Bellmon* as Young Ebenezer). I am having a great time carving each line and finding the thoughts and feelings behind them. Instead of playing the end of the scene, I am trying to let the changing circumstances effect me to bring me to that place, and wherever I end up is the truth Belle experiences. One of the most important things, to me, in acting is to be having fun and to want to work more. This is absolutely true of this scene and everything we've done so far.  I’m finding that the emotions of the scene come so easily just purely through the words and through the circumstances of the story. That Dickens, he's a talented fellow there. Now, I need to work on my accent for tonight's rehearsal!

We are working quickly and as a first-time cast member, this is both exhilarating and refreshingly challenging!
Well, first of all, the cast is amazing: singing, acting, dancing: we got it! I feel so honored to be working alongside each and every member and I am learning so much from them. The level of commitment to the music, text and choreography is tops, and in turn leaves no room for slacking (which is good, we have only a few more weeks until we open)! It's interesting, a lot of these carols I know very well --- or so I thought. I'm on the soprano line for all the singing I do, and it's mainly melody. But there are a lot of small details, shifts, and changes that I am (slowly but surely) learning. Example: (as seen in the title of this post) in our carol, it is "Deck the hall with boughs of holly...Fa la la la la - fa la la la." See? Subtle differences, again, keeping me on my toes! I don't think I'll ever sing "Deck the halls..." again. Since the first music rehearsal, various Christmas Carols have become the soundtrack in my brain (especially "Wassail"). And I love it! 

There is just so much joy in singing these songs and doing these dances that it makes it a wonderful time just coming to rehearsal! Even though we sometimes have to deal with traffic and that's always stressful, I always notice my mood lighten when I sign in and get ready to work. Christmas Carol is proving such a beautiful rehearsal process -- I am always looking forward to rehearsal and can't wait to see where we go!

-Micah Tougas, Cast member

Dancing and Teaching and Acting, Oh My!

Here we are at the one week point already.

We started these wonderful rehearsals the day after we gave thanks and it is hard to believe a week has gone by. It feels like we have done so much, and yet so little.

I have the interesting, exciting, and humbling job of being on both sides of this project. I blur the lines as I transition from being choreographer to actress in rehearsals. I can't say which part I enjoy more, but I can say that I am very lucky to be given the chance to do both.

Yesterday's rehearsal was a challenge, I admit. For me that is. We staged Pattapan and Wassail - two huge numbers. Both difficult to sing with lyrics that repeat and spiral and harmonies that, at least for me as an alto, feel like a wave I have to jump on and ride and if I lose my balance I'm under water. Then we layer in character. Troy gave us the blocking for the scenes going into, out of and through the numbers and it was beautiful to see these people come alive. Then... the dance. At some point or another in each of these numbers, someone is going to be dancing against the rhythm of the part they are singing. Even me.

So - four hours, two large numbers and the scenes that shape them. By the end we were all hot, sweaty and tired... and it looked pretty good. But I am wiped out today. I forgot how hard it is to shout over piano, violin and voices. I forgot how hard it was to jump in and out of a number - to watch, return, act, teach. My feet hurt and my voice is tired and I am so happy. It is a gift to be given a job that you love. It is a miracle to be given two.

From the white blank page!

So truth be told, I've been staring at the empty page, and have tried to think of how could I write something witty, interesting, insightful, creatively intriguing and or all of these things. Instead the minutes have passed and everything seems incredibly boring and dreadfully dull, and I wonder, did 'Mr Dickens have this problem?'

You see when when we look at 'A Christmas Carol' you don't just have this wonderful story but a gift from one of the greatest story tellers of all time. A tale of spirits, humanity, Christmas charity, yuletide warmth, and a conduit to all our own Christmas pasts, not too mention any previous 'A Christmas Carol' memories that we may have stored within our own lifetime.

I believe this will be my fourth experience of actually participating in 'A Christmas Carol' production, my umpteenth experience of the story as an actor, director, reader and viewer, and my actual 38th Christmas this year. All very different and all so magical.

Fortunately whatever happens I am sharing this particular experience amidst a terribly lovely cast and crew, all passionate about their craft, as well as being humble, charming and as someone once said, 'so awfully nice.' I am particularly grateful to certain ladies who are kind enough to walk me through my dance steps.

The funny thing is, that this is the first production I have ever been involved with when quite a few of the cast have already done this particular show. But it doesn't seem to stop them enjoying themselves, nor discovering at least it seems, 'new moments'.

From my own personal perspective it is not the first time I have played Fred, and I hope it won't be my last, as he is indeed such a charming character to play, with a loving heart and noble virtues. However even though I am familiar with the lines, it doesn't mean I am merely repeating a previous performance. For starters I am playing opposite different actors, working for a different director, and this in itself creates new discoveries, along with that I keep finding new thoughts, and thanks to the beauty of theatre in order to keep the performance fresh, you have have to keep discovering, and thankfully one has such a rich text to use, which makes the task so much easier.

Which brings me to my final thought, the genius of Mr Dickens. Charles Dickens was even though a novelist, a Shakespeare of his time. His works still resonate today due to the vast array of subjects that his stories covered, as well as the way in which readers can identify and react to the individual characters on the page. Be it heroes such as Pip, Oliver and Nicholas Nickleby who rise to success in the face of great adversity, or the machinations of his villains such as Fagin, Bill Sikes, and Squeers, lovable rogues like the Artful Dodger, mysterious benefactors such as Abel Magwitch, and tortured antagonists in forms of Miss Havisham and Ralph Nickleby. Not forgetting the way in which Dickens would weave it all around the greater social issues of his time, which we can sadly still draw comparisons with today.

So we come to 'A Christmas Carol', a ghost story, a story of the magic of Christmas, of 'brotherly' love, a tale of redemption and the milk of 'human kindness'. Either way even though it set against the backdrop of a harsh Victorian London it is awash with Christmas Spirit, at it's center the redemption and salvation of a cruel banker. The beauty of course is that we can still 'apply' both it's message and story to our own times. We live do we not in extreme financial times, unsettled by widespread corporate greed, of struggling families, of hopelessness and continued violence of overseas? Yet amidst it all do we not seek a little warmth and solace in the spirit of Christmas and the message it carries?

So if you are struggling to find some joy in the yuletide spirit then more of a reason to come to 'A Christmas Carol' at The Hanover Theatre.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

CONTEST ENTRY: Christmas With a Three-Foot Scrooge- Sydney S.

So you ask if I have a Scrooge in my life, huh? Well, I do. He's three feet tall and is named Drew. I know, not so scary yet, but after you read this, you will feel so bad for me. So here is the story, of “Christmas With a Three-Foot Scrooge”.
Long, long ago- well, a few years ago, it was Christmas Eve. I was seven years old, and my little brother Drew, was three years old. We were at our Christmas party. Our guests were having a great time, and so weren't we. I was surprised the way Drew was acting. He was behaved, mild-mannered, and polite, until “Present Time”. That got Drew crazy.
He was jumping around, screaming, and kicking. We could all tell he was excited. A little, too, excited. I was extremely embarrassed. Then, Drew ran to the Christmas Tree. I knew something bad was going to happen... I was right. Drew jumped on one of the presents that was
“coincidentally” for me, and was now “coincidentally” ruined. Instead of yelling and tackling him, I took a deep breath, and let it go.
I walked over to the Christmas Tree and took the biggest present that was for me. I untied the bow very gently, but then BAM! Drew knocked me on the hardwood floor like a door that Chuck Norris kicked. Before I got up, Drew was ripping the wrapping paper to that present.
“No!” I screamed embarrassing myself. I couldn't help a wild child open my present without adult supervision. There it was, one of the presents I really wanted for Christmas.
“Oh my goodness!” I screamed. I loved it!
It was a beautiful bike with no training wheels. It was a Mongoose bike, from one of the best bike company ever! The bike was magenta, one of my favorite colors. Also, the bike was super shiny since it was new.
I hugged the people who bought me the bike and thanked them. I walked back to the tree to open a new present. Then, I found my bike lying on the ground looking like someone knocked it over, and in this case, that “someone” was Drew.
Unlike before, I screamed and really tackled him furiously. My bike was a half ruined! I let go of Drew and hugged my Mom. Her lovely words and squeeze somehow calmed me down. After that, the rest of the night was much better with Drew in his room, and me playing with my
new toys.
When everyone left, I got in to my Pajamas and went into my room. My mom and dad tucked me in, and kissed me on the forehead. We all said “goodnight” to each other, and I was already sleeping dreaming about everything that was going to happen tomorrow.
The next morning, I woke up around six o'clock. Even though it was early, very early, I still woke my parents up.
“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!” I hollered while shaking them.
“What? What? What?” my mom said in a very sleepy voice.
“Christmas!!!” I screamed.
“Oh, right. Merry Christmas, sweetie,” my mom said, still very sleepy.
“Merry Christmas!” I said hugging my mom and dad.
“Lets go go go!” Then , I was off running to the Living Room. I stopped running and stared at the Living Room. Oh my! I sat on the floor just admiring the presents. Then, I heard a high-pitched scream from the hallway. It was Drew. (Of course). He ran to the Christmas Tree and ripped his presents open. (Thank goodness not mine). Mom and dad took pictures of Drew. Now it was my turn. I got wonderful presents like, an Electric Guitar, a Baby Alive Doll,
Barbie Dolls, and much, much, more.
I played with all of my toys until Lunch Time. I stuffed my self with
ham, ham, and more ham. Then I rinsed my throat with cold, refreshing,
water.
Drew played with his food. He at least tried the ham, but then spit it out on the floor. We also had mashed potatoes, which Drew played with also. He rubbed the mashed potatoes on his face and ran around the house screaming “Give me your potatoes!!!”
I just ignored Drew, but my Dad got really mad.
He picked Drew up and brought him to his room. Dad locked the door so Drew couldn't get out. For a few minutes, all I heard was Drew screaming, kicking the door, and the Christmas music on the Television. I didn't feel bad for Drew at all. He kind of deserves all of that. He half
ruined my Christmas!
Then, my Dad was nice enough to open Drew's door and let him play. The rest of the day wasn't too bad. Drew just knocked over some of my favorite ornaments, broke my crayons, and messed up my Wii. (The crayons I don't really care about).
The day passed by fast, and it was time to go to sleep. It was a great day. I said “Goodnight” to everyone, and I was asleep.
It was morning, a normal morning. My alarm clock/Drew woke me up. I had some Frosted Flakes with milk, my favorite. I turned on the Television in our Kitchen. I watched Hannah Montana, and my Dad was reading the News Paper, then he noticed something.
“Want to go see a movie today?” My Dad asked.
“Sure,” I said.
“Lets see...hmm...want to see ' A Christmas Carol?'”
“Yay!” I said.
“I'll take that as a yes,” my Dad said.
So Dad, Mom, Drew and I went to the movie theaters.
“Here we are!” Dad said.
I saw a humongous, gigantic, enormous, big, posters everywhere advertising movies. The smell of buttery popcorn made me hungry. Really, really, hungry. So I walked over to the Popcorn Counter and ordered a Medium Popcorn.
While I was giving the money to the lady, I heard yelling. A very familiar yell. Yep! It was Drew. He was yelling for a bigger popcorn. Mom refused. Then, of course, Drew ran to me.
“SYDNEY! BIG POPCORN!” Drew yelled.
“Okay,” I said just to make him stop.
“YAY!!!” Drew screamed.
I just wanted to get out of the Theater. When we got our tickets, we walked to the room where the movie was playing. I relaxed, and ate my Popcorn. The movie started right away.
The movie was wonderful. Scrooge would have to be my favorite character. I wondered how it would be like to have another version of Scrooge in real life. Well, someone who ruins Christmas and takes the fun out of almost everything. There would have to be someone like that.
While I was walking out of the Movie Room, I saw Drew sipping and slurping his soda. I just stared at him and thought: Drew is a Scrooge! He acts like one! Now I know how it feels like. I kept staring at Drew. Yep, he's a Scrooge. I got to say, even though he's a Scrooge, he's my
Scrooge.

CONTEST ENTRY: The Scrooge in My life- John D.

I had a true scrooge in my life. My sister. EVERY SINGLE YEAR, I knew exactly what she would give me on Christmas. Why? I knew because religiously she would give me exactly what I gave her the year before. This obviously took a lot of effort on her part since she always lost everything, but not the gift I gave her the year before. Nope she saved it and gave it back! It got to the point where I would make sure I gave her something I liked because I knew in a year it would be mine....made sure not to include perishables :).....However my sister passed away x-mas eve in 2009 and I'd give all my future Christmas's up to have my Scrooge back!

CONTEST ENTRY: My 5-year old Scrooge- Sydney L.

My 5 year old Scrooge is my little brother. He's always stealing something. A lot of times some things like hair things, earrings,precious gold, trophies, and much more. But one thing he did he will never change he turned the meaning of Christmas upside down. I will tell you the story yes indeed. It all began Christmas morning.We all woke up to get our presents, and they were gone! We looked everywhere but then......we saw my brother (the Scrooge) in his room opening all of the present. Even the girls presents! We were so sad. But we found out ... he snuck into the neighbors and stole their's too! We told him how he would be put on the naughty list so we helped him re-wrap all of them, and it was good because all the neighbors were still fast asleep. Thats my 5 year old Scrooge. The End...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

CONTEST ENTRY: The Scrooge in My Life- Kaitlin S.

When I was in the 7th grade my English class read the book, A Christmas Carol. While some didn't enjoy the book I looked past what they saw and found that the story had an important lesson that I could relate to. A Christmas Carol could be seen as a story of a man who hates his life because of his past but I think its about never giving up when the "Scrooge" in your life brings you down. I'm 15 years old and began doing theater two years ago. I always got ensemble roles and many people like Scrooge would tell me I wasn't important in the show because I wasn't the lead but, after doing a number of shows something struck me that the other actors didn't see. I was just as important. Without me and others in the ensemble there wouldn't be a great show. I was able to show the people who acted like Scrooge how important we ensemble actors were and in the end they understood my point of view and changed for better just like Scrooge did in a Christmas Carol.

CONTEST ENTRY: Once Upon a Real Life Scrooge- Cheryl G.

The holidays are for joy, time with family, no arguments, and selflessness. Sadly not every family can have this picture perfect holiday time for there will always be that one person who can be easily labeled “Scrooge”. The Scrooge of my life is my grandmother.
Every year around the holiday season my younger brother and I get very excited for dinner with aunts and uncles, snow, pine scented candles, the Christmas tree, and, the classic, no school for a week. Although we look forward to this time of year, our holiday spirit gets cut down by our grandmother as she is not one for the holidays and as hard as she tries, it just doesn’t work. The worst Christmas was a few years ago…
It was Christmas morning and my brother and I were up nice and early to make a breakfast of pancakes and bacon for the family. My grandmother got out of bed and was clearly grumpy.
“Merry Christmas Gram!” my brother said to her.
“Merry Christmas” she grunted as she walked to the kitchen.
“We’re just waiting for mom to take the dogs out and come down” I said. She glared at me and mumbled an “okay”. We sat in the parlor and watched Christmas movies for an hour or so waiting for my mom. Finally, my grandmother had had it.
“Where is your mother?” she asked angrily.
“She just got up and is getting ready to take the dogs out now” I said.
“Well, I’m done waiting for her. We need to just get this over with so we can go to Auntie Cindy’s and then come home and be done with Christmas.”
“Gram, she’s on her way down. Just wait a few.”
“Like I said, I’m done waiting.” She got up, grabbed her jacket and walked out of the house. My brother looked at me sadly and started to tear up for he was not happy that this was happening.
We both knew that she hated Christmas but we didn’t think it was enough for her to walk out on her family. My brother and I were very upset with this whole situation as we didn’t think that having to wait for mom was that big of a deal. We thought that the whole spirit of the holidays was to be with your family and do things together even if someone was running a little late.
Eventually my grandmother came back to the house but she was in no better mood than she was when she left. My mom came down once my grandmother had returned and we all sat in the parlor around the Christmas tree and open our gifts.
“Cheryl,” my brother said to me.
“Yes ‘Tonio” I replied.
“We didn’t get as many gifts as we did last year” I helped him put his new clothes away in the drawer.
“Nope we didn’t but that doesn’t matter.”
“How does that not matter” he said going all bug-eyed.
“Because we got something and that’s more than a lot of people can say. So be happy you got something because something it better than nothing.”
We later ventured to my aunt’s house where everyone was smiling and wishing everyone a Merry Christmas except for my grandmother. She was not smiling, she was not happy, and she did not want to be there for she would’ve much rather been home. At the dinner table I asked if I could say something and I was allowed to.
“Merry Christmas everyone. I just want to say that it’s not about the amount of presents under the tree, the amount of money in the envelope, or whether you’re rich or poor. It really just matters who you’re with and that you’re thankful for any thing that you got.” I smiled, sat down and ate with my family.
I looked across the table at my grandmother who still looked miserable. I had thought that my speech would’ve had an impact on her but seemingly it didn’t. Sometimes, one can take a Scrooge and make them better but sometimes, one must just work around their Scrooge and try their best to enjoy the holiday season. Sadly, that’s what my family and I must do.

CONTEST ENTRY: Office Scrooges- Wilhemina R.

I guess my Scrooge would have to be two head secretaries that I have worked with before in two different locations. Scrooge had problems with being a penny pincher. Well these two secretaries are modern day office supply pinchers.
The first location was with the head secretary Zoey (name is not original). I was volunteering with her organization for about eight weeks during the spring/summer seasons. I needed some printer paper to make flyers to outreach for an event that the organization was having. Well if flyers are posted outside the colored paper would attract more people to reading it as well as the flyer being more visible in the night hours. The secretary explained to me in a few sentences basically that colored paper was to expensive, she did use the word expensive, to use for outreaching because the flyers would get damaged by the weather. That it would be a waste of money for the organization although she used nicer words than the ones I am using. I would think that if you would want people to attend your event you would use everything available to you to have high numbers of people at the event. This same secretary almost had a temper tantrum when I asked her for more envelopes to send out a letter for the organization for a mass mailing. She said that she had given me the exact amount of envelopes necessary to stuff with the 500 letters. She was so reluctant to give me more envelopes. The envelopes were not special envelopes just plain size ten business envelopes. Eventually, she gave me the extra envelopes I need to finish the task given to me at the volunteer site. I found it very hard to approach her to ask for office supplies to complete my duties as a volunteer in the office. I only volunteered during that eight week period and never returned there to volunteer except for their one day outdoor projects that they had available a few times a year. I had a marvelous time at the one day outdoor volunteer projects.
The second location the Head Secretary name was Olympia (name is not original). I think Zoey and Olympia went to the same secretary school because they were both office supply pinchers. Olympia would get extremely upset at any mistake that I made while working for her as a secretary. For example, if I was making photocopies and happen to make single sided rather than double sided and then I would have to make a second set of the needed single sided copies, she would tell me that her office does not have a huge supply of paper. Staff at this office had to ask for colored paper and she would only give out her colored paper if she felt the photocopies would be enhanced by using colored paper. Although, she perferred to give out only a limit amount of colored paper for each proposed photocopy packet. Usuallly when you deliver a packet that has been photocopied you would paper clip it so that the recipient would be able to distinguish the originals from the copies well; let just say I had to do without paperclips for a good three weeks. I did not have the basic necessities to perform my job in the office.
I guess what I would want everybody who works in an office is to be grateful for what is available to you. I had the mindset that when you go to a location to volunteer, visit or work that this location would have the supplies you need to complete your task. Boy was I wrong! I have learn that not all people are as organized and caring as I am.
I wonder if there are any laws that state that employment or volunteer locations should have the materials necessary at the location for the employee/volunteer to complete the assigned tasks that they are given. I know that they economy is not that great. That prices on everyday items are going up and our salaries are not increasing proprtionally to these higher prices. I don't think that the employee/volunteer should be required to bring the necessary materials need to the site location to complete assigned tasks. Business, Organizations and monopolies are all trying to save money where they can in their establishments. We the people who work in offices should unite to protest against this injustice that many of us have to face everyday; everyday causing us anguish and stress which compromises our health. Our Health.

CONTEST ENTRY: Oh it's sad that we would have such a story. - Kym M.

Scrooge on Christmas...perhaps it can turn into a good thing?

About three years ago, we went to NY for a family Christmas with all of the children (my husband and his three siblings), seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren at my mother-in-laws (Nana's) house. The cousins were all happy to see each other, since the family lives in different parts of the east coast.

The siblings have had a rift in the past, but we truly thought this was going to be a real family holiday, with over a dozen of us sleeping in Nana's cape cod style house. Following a dinner and great conversation, the kids started to settle in to open their presents. Nothing good can come when hot-headedness and misunderstanding abound...in the tiny living room, our daughter was poked in the eye during the present unwrapping (not a big deal, but she tended overreact loudly over little things). Sibling #1 commented how we couldn't control our child's crying; we tried to ignore it, although we had under-our-breath reactions to Sibling #1's comments. Sibling #2 thought the under-our-breath comments were directed at his child, who we didn't know until later was the poke-r. He marched angrily into the kitchen (we didn't know where he went or why). We could all sense things were falling apart quickly.

A few minutes later, my husband went into the kitchen, and *BAM!* - Sibling #2 gave him a right hook into the eye, which knocked him into the stove (nearly knocking the stove over). Sibling #3 and Adult Grandson had to pull #2 off my husband. Meanwhile, the rest of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren could see the kitchen from where they were sitting in the living room. Sibling #2's four children were looking at the floor during the melee. The other children in the room looked stunned. It was sadly evident to the rest of the adults in the room, that those four children had seen this behavior before.

Christmases need to be happy occasions, and from this incident at Nana Square Garden (as Adult Grandson termed it), we have devoted our immediate family to living a life and surrounding ourselves with people who are NVBSF - Non-Violent and "Drama"-free! Except for theatre-drama, that is!

CONTEST ENTRY: My Scrooge Story- Peggy P.

My Scrooge is my stepfather Neil.

Neil is an alcoholic who married my Mom back in the 80’s. Until he retired he would be totally sober for the entire week then became the “weekend alcoholic” that he was. Every weekend he would alienate himself from the family by insulting all of us. After retirement he drank every day which made things worse. He used to verbally abuse my mother as well. He’d be so drunk he would go to bed between 7 and 8 PM.

Then one day my Mom decided to audio tape him. She played it back for him and gave him the ultimatum. Sober up or leave. He chose to get help.

He admitted himself into a local rehab facility and from that day on didn’t take a drink. Through rehab and AA he became a reformed, good, all around nice man and, until he was admitted to a nursing home for Alzheimer’s, chose not to take a drink. I give him all the credit in the world.

From alcohol abuse to totally sober since the 1990’s, his life was transformed. His daughter moved him to California with her and he is in a facility in which she volunteers so she sees him daily. The people in the facility love him. I miss him but I know that where he is now is the best for him.

He evolved from “Mr. Scrooge” to “Uncle Scrooge” and I hope his life will end peacefully and happily for him.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Music and dancing...

We started rehearsal yesterday, with everyone still full of Thanksgiving turkey - music for 4 hours and then a read through of the script. The music sounds great - we have a very talented singing cast!

Today is mostly choreography - always very stop and go, and it takes a while to put it all together. Once everyone learns their piece though, it comes together into a nice whole. I've always found it fascinating that it's not until you can look at the whole song, that you can appreciate what's been in the mind of the choreographer since the beginning.

We did "Deck the Hall" this morning, and "The Holly and the Ivy," for the appearance of the Spirit of Christmas Past. Tori Heinlein has a beautiful young voice as the Spirit - I like this part better, already, than last year!

On lunch break now; then back in 15 minutes to stage the party at Fred & Millie's house!

Troy Siebels, Director

Friday, November 25, 2011

Welcome!

We are so excited to be starting a blog about our annual production of A Christmas Carol. You can look forward to getting the inside scoop about our contests, promotions, and insights from the cast and director!



With rehearsals starting today, Troy Siebels (our executive director and the man behind New England's largest and most spectacular production of this holiday favorite) is busily working on his final notes and prepartions for another whirlwind of rehearsals, fittings, and oh-so-much more!


In the meantime, don't be shy if you want to win a walk-on role in this elaborate and lush celebration of the true spirit of the season...the deadline for entering your best story about the Scrooge in your life is coming up soon! You have until December 1, 2011 at 5pm to email marketing@thehanovertheatre.org your personal submission. This is a great way let your inner Dickens shine through and turn those Bah Humbugs into feelings of Fezziwig!


For more details, visit http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OaQEta4ajlY&feature=youtu.be and you'll also get a good idea of just how fabulous this show really is...and how people of ALL ages love to see it...year after year!

Til next time,


Lisa Condit

Director of Marketing & PR

The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts