Monday, December 12, 2011

Director's Note: A Christmas Carol

"A Christmas Carol" is a ghost story. It is a ghost story that reminds us all of the magic of Christmas…but a ghost story, nonetheless.

When I was approached about directing this year's production, I knew I wanted to honor the Christmas tradition Theatre Charlotte has established, which has become a part of so many lives over the past 5 years. At the same time, however, I also wanted to give the audience something a little different. To keep the production fresh and exciting, I wanted to meld tradition and invention… and remind us all that this is a Christmas ghost story.

The invention comes in the form of many new costumes and sounds, and an entirely new set and light design. Chris Timmons' new set plot has allowed for more magic on stage. Our dark moments are darker. Our scary moments are scarier. Hopefully, our happy moments are even happier!

On the first day of rehearsal I asked our cast about their favorite holiday traditions (an idea stolen from previous director, Vito Abate). The answers ranged from the traditional (presents and time with family), to the more unique (Belkie Bears and 104.7). Kevin Campbell, our Scrooge since the first "Christmas Carol" in 2007, proclaimed that his favorite tradition was spending his holiday season at Theatre Charlotte in his favorite role!

As we present our 5th anniversary production of "A Christmas Carol," we hope that spending part of your holidays with Theatre Charlotte has become one of your favorite traditions!
-Stuart Spencer
Director, A CHRISTMAS CAROL at Theatre Charlotte

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Adding More Magic to "A Christmas Carol"

The other day our intern asked me what was different with “A Christmas Carol” this year and apparently word travels because she isn’t the first to ask that question. In a nutshell, the answer is... “much.”

I think the more appropriate question is, “why?” With the same script as last year, why not pull out the set pieces, dust them off and take it easy for a change. Well, I think I have finally found ways to solve some of the problems that have plagued the show in the past. Funny what you can do when you can spend the appropriate amount of time devoted to one production (never mind that this case study was stretched out over three seasons).

At the start of this process, I referred to the previous year’s design which in turn had some modifications from the first year when I was sort of backed into a corner to design the show at the last minute, with no money, the need for levels and little time to develop a clear picture of the show. In trying to modify that design, I soon found that I was complicating the process even further, so the best thing to do was to scrap everything and get back to the basics. What were the most important elements in each scene and how could I make this show transition more smoothly? How can we do a better job of establishing the mood of this play? That isn’t to say that this year’s production will look like a poor man’s “A Christmas Carol,” on the contrary, I think this year will be much more successful artistically and technically.

I don’t want to give a lot away, but let me say a few things about this year technically. At times, there will be more magic in transitioning from one place to another and hopefully more seamless scene changes. There is more attention to detail this year, so while there are a few pieces that will be returning, they have been dressed up a little. With the help of lighting, we will reinforce the mood of the story to create a darker and happier Christmas Carol than we have seen in past productions, maybe dating back to the first year we did “A Christmas Carol” with a different script. However, I would venture to say it was the most successful of the four productions we have done. And did I mention that we hope to showcase our new LED lighting fixtures (thanks to all who donated through Power2Give, you know who you are!)

If you still think you have seen it all in this production, let me conclude by saying that there will be more magic this year. Theatre Charlotte certainly can’t afford to play on the same level as others around here, but we make the most of what we have and you can still create magic by being resourceful and with a little trial and error. Look for a few more “effects” this year that will hopefully leave you wondering about the magic of live theatre, all the while filled with the spirit of the Holiday season.

-Chris Timmons
Set Designer/Lighting Designer, "A Christmas Carol" at Theatre Charlotte