The Civic's Christmas Tradition
June 1, 2017
How does one select a show for the season and why A Christmas Carol? There's the usual process of the Artistic Committee involving board members, staff and community individuals who carefully select a show based on numerous criteria: marketability, name recognition, audience surveys, cost, projected income, etc. As the director, I took a slightly different path before presenting A Christmas Carol to the Artistic Committee the first time when we did the show in 2004.
During my years as a professional musical theater performer I experienced Liz Calloway's lyrical, yet strong vocal ability in the musicals Baby and Starmites (unfamiliar to most). Years later I purchased her CD of Broadway show tunes that included an absolutely lovely melody called "A Place Called Home," a sentimental song of love, hope and family. To my surprise it was from this show, A Christmas Carol - The Musical by Disney composer Alan Menken (Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast). His lush musical score reintroduced this classic Christmas tale to me in a new light, filled with more in-depth character development of Ebenezer Scrooge's formative years and creating a greater impact at the end when Scrooge finally learns the true meaning of Christmas from his ghostly "friends."
In 2004 the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre gave A Christmas Carol an Indiana premiere. The show was originally presented by Radio City Entertainment at the Theater at Madison Square Gardens as an annual holiday tradition. At "The Garden," stars like Walter Charles, Terrance Mann, Tony Roberts, Frank Langella, Charles Krohn, Roddy McDowall, Hal Linden, Roger Daltrey, Tim Curry and Jim Dale have all portrayed Scrooge. The production featured the delightful choreography of Susan Stroman, and even Ben Vereen appeared as the Ghost of Christmas Present. When the rights became available, I seized the opportunity to be the first in the state to present this uplifting sentimental holiday tale. Now, 12 years later, the universal beauty and message holds true!
The lyrics convey it all: "Let the stars in the sky remind us of man's compassion. / Let us love till we die and God bless us every one." Happy Holidays from the Civic Theatre staff and board of directors!