Written by: Izzi Diaz
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Academy Youth Theatre presents the tale of the beloved holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, December 11-12, 2020, from the Historic Academy Theatre.
The Academy Youth Theatre program, comprised of 30 area performers aged 11-22, has assembled virtually and in-person over the past two months under Director Brooke Spencer to create a beautiful multi-media performance and spread Holiday cheer desperately needed this Winter season. How? By creating a COVID-19 friendly performance that all can enjoy from the best seats in their own homes.
The story of A Christmas Carol follows the character Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean old man who hates Christmas. On Christmas Eve, Ebenezer is particularly unkind to his employees, his nephew, and even refuses to donate to charity. One night, upon his arrival at home, he is visited by the ghost of his dead business partner, along with three other ghosts in his sleep; the Ghost of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. Throughout the evening these ghosts show Ebenezer how his past, present, and future actions affect himself and others, and he awakens from his sleep overwhelmed with joy by the chance to redeem himself and share his newfound Christmas spirit.
Landen Swain, a local college student, plays Scrooge’s clerk Bob Cratchit in the show. Landen resonates with the moral of the classic tale, stating that everyone deserves kindness. “People who are more pessimistic or grouchy deserve love, too,” said Swain.
One of the best and most evident themes found in this timeless Holiday story is joy. In darker times such as now, even the happiest and brightest of souls can take on characteristics like dear old Ebenezer Scrooge. Ebenezer personifies our worst fears; loneliness, bitterness, and an all too pessimistic outlook on life. As we’re nearing the end of this long and trying year, it is important to remind ourselves to identify negative mindsets and look towards the hope of the future.
“One place where joy is always evident is in the arts,” said Brittany Griffith, Director of Programming. “Bringing these stories to life and allowing our youth to compare the experiences of their characters on stage to the experiences they are having in their real lives can be pivotal, as art almost always imitates life.”
“These stories remind us that there is a joy to be found in every phase of life, and it can be found even in the littlest of things,” said Griffith. “And that is a very powerful message for the moment.”
Even more powerful than the message of the show, was the tenacity of the cast and crew as they adapted to new policies and procedures set due to COVID-19.
In addition to gathering restrictions and health and safety policies at every turn, the Director and her crew were also asked to adapt the overall process and creation of the show; to question what it meant to produce live theatre and ask how that could create new possibilities during a COVID-19 world.
“I am extremely proud of this cast and crew for their adaptability,” said Kelly Brammer, Director of Education. “The Director, Brooke Spencer, made every effort to give students a unique experience that abided by our strict health and safety policies in place.”
The outcome of Spencer’s efforts was a plan to create a product that incorporates aspects of traditional theater with aspects of film into the overall process and end product. This way, students could rehearse in smaller groups with more one-on-one instruction, and even virtually, when able or if needed due to COVID-19 policies. For the performances, this also meant that the cast and crew could produce a live show that could easily be live-streamed, should COVID-19 gathering restrictions tighten or patrons feel uncomfortable visiting the Historic Theatre for the performances in-person.
“This is no ordinary version of A Christmas Carol and these are not ordinary times,” said Brammer. “Ebenezer Scrooge’s journey to self-discovery and redemption is beautifully told through the acting and vocal performances by these students captured on stage and on screen in an amazing and technically advanced way.”
For those tuning in virtually, you will see portions of the show performed live on stage, complete with the usual theatrics, as well as a few unique adaptations made through pre-filming at on and off-site locations and shown through the use of our advanced projection technology (Hint: watch closely for the ghost of Jacob Marley).
Watch A Christmas Carol from the comfort of your own home through our secure livestream on December 11, 2020, made possible by Watts Creative Studios. Tickets are available through the link above, or by calling our Box Office at (434) 846-8499, Monday-Friday, 12pm-5pm.
A Christmas Carol is sponsored by First National Bank and Innovative Wireless Technologies.
For more information or to purchase tickets to these performances, contact our Box Office at (434) 846-8499.