Reimagining a beloved holiday classic.
For 10 years, Lyric Theatre has brought Charles Dickens’ heartwarming tale to life in the Plaza Theatre. This year, on its diamond anniversary of “A Christmas Carol,” audiences can enjoy an all-new outdoor production set at the historic Harn Homestead, which allows for a safe, socially distanced live theatre experience.
This reimagined production is unlike anything you’ve seen from Lyric thus far. There are two rotating casts — Holly and Ivy — plus twists, turns and surprises around every corner (no spoilers!), and it’s sprinkled with classic Christmas carols. When you arrive, feel free to grab a hot beverage and a snack before audience hosts with lanterns guide you from scene to scene on the magical journey of Ebenezer Scrooge and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Guests will be split into groups of four to ensure safe distancing. Not only do you get to tour the Harn Homestead transformed as a Victorian-era village, but you also get to see a hopeful, uplifting holiday story come alive right in front of your eyes.
We were lucky enough to see a recent performance by the Holly cast and chat with some of the cast and crew. Keep reading to hear what they have to say about this immersive, full-360 experience.
A message from Michael Baron, Lyric’s Producing Artistic Director and Co-Director of “A Christmas Carol”
A chat with the cast and crew
From left to right: Chris Shepard (Topper), Lexi Windsor (Mrs. Fred’s Aunt), Kristin Küns (Fred’s Wife) and Andi Dema (Fred). Photo by K. Talley Photography.
Laurena Sherrill, Stage Manager (Holly Cast)
Walk us through the rehearsal process. What has been different about rehearsing for an outdoor show as opposed to one at the Lyric Plaza Theatre?
Everything. Pretty much everything is different. I had never done a site-specific show before, so this was a great challenge for all of us. We had to deal with the weather and terrain —we had a skunk — just things that you never would consider when you're in an indoor space. So, this has definitely been a challenge for all of us that we've taken in stride and encouragement. We also have a lot of different locations, so each location serves as a different stage. We’re used to preparing one space for the entire show. But now, we’re preparing 11 different locations for its own individual scene, which is really a different kind of mindset to put yourself in.
What type of experience can audiences expect from this outdoor production?
I was in the audience when Caroline [Stage Manager for the Ivy cast] was calling a show, and it was just a completely different experience. We go to outdoor venues for different types of events, we never really see it for theatre. Just the fact that we can be immersed, full-360, into an experience is a completely different mindset.
What makes this show a special holiday piece, and why should families come see it?
This show’s been running for 10 years. I came to see it before I was ever working on it. This is my fifth year doing the show, and for some reason it’s so magical that everyone comes back. It’s not something that can be missed during this season, especially this year. We need something that is heartwarming and makes us think about life and our current situation. This story and the way it’s being told is so all-encompassing of what we need right now.
Susan Riley and Charlie Monnot. Photo by K. Talley Photography.
Charlie Monnot, Mr. Cratchit (Holly Cast)
What’s your favorite part of the show?
I think it’s right before my first entrance. I love the excitement of going on and the response of the audience.
What has the rehearsal process been like for you, as a cast member in an outdoor show?
It’s been a challenge, very different. But it’s also exciting. This will be my 10th year, so it made everything fresh and new and very real.
What makes this show a special holiday tradition?
It’s just the warmth. I mean you can feel it, as an actor, you can feel it from the audience. At the end, there’s this warmth that comes back and forth between the two of us, and it’s just a wonderful, lovely feeling.
W. Jerome Stevenson as Ebenezer Scrooge with the Ghost of Christmas Future. Photo by K. Talley Photography.
Stephen Hilton, Ghost of Marley/Fezziwig/Old Joe (Holly Cast)
What is your favorite part of the show?
Well, my favorite part is the appearance of the ghost. It’s always surprising to the audience. I don’t want to give it away, but I love watching the audience’s reaction when they realize I’m there.
What has rehearsal been like for you?
Really, really fun. Interesting, very different. We’re used to working in the theatre and having time to sit down and everything. Rehearsing out here has been fun — it was really exciting to put together a new production like this, a new version of the production, and something new for the audience. It was really fun to see Michael and Ashley’s reimagining of it out here. It was really entertaining for us.
What about the show makes it a special holiday tradition for families to come see? Why should they come see?
Well, first of all, I mean it’s “A Christmas Carol,” and at Christmas time it’s the perfect story because it’s the story of redemption, the story of change and of hope, which God knows we all need right now. So, that alone, but also the experience of it out here at the Harn Homestead is really unique for audiences because sometimes kids get a little wiggly and bored sitting in a theatre, but out here, they’re moving pretty much constantly, there’s not a lot of time where there’s standing still in one place. Families get to experience and talk about things that they would have to be quiet about in a theatre. It’s really good for families out here.
Matt Govich as Ghost of Christmas Present. Photo by K. Talley Photography.
“A Christmas Carol” runs now through December 27, 2020. Guests will be required to wear a mask and have their temperatures taken at the door. Tickets are available now. Get yours while you can here!