Lyric’s Holiday Staple A Christmas Carol returns for 9th Year
Lyric Theatre’s beloved Holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol, returns to the Plaza this Christmas season. Based on the novella by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol tells the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a now mythical character first created in Victorian Era England at a time when Christmas wasn’t the annual celebration that it is today. In fact, Christmas wasn’t really celebrated at all, and the ideas of Christmas trees, carols, and holiday parties were considered westernized and trendy. Charles Dickens wrote the story, subtitled A Ghost Story of Christmas, to send a deeper message about how we treat the poor and less fortunate. Scrooge is rich but unhappy, fortunate but bitter, and he’s down a dark path. The redeeming quality of the story shows the transformative power of Christmas, not just the season, but the ideas of thankfulness, gratitude, appreciating those who love you, and caring for those who need help.
Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma has created a new holiday tradition with their production of A Christmas Carol, now in its ninth year. The sparkling play, directed by Lyric Producing Artistic Director Michael Baron, features a stellar cast that largely returns every year to reprise their roles and revive the story of the true meaning of Christmas. They also continue their tradition of collecting donations for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma after every performance. Says Baron, “Charles Dickens’ story stands the test of time as the greatest holiday story in the modern English language. Lyric’s A Christmas Carol has become a holiday tradition, now in its ninth year. We know it’s an important story to the community and is often the first live theatrical experience for many children.”
Lyric Theatre favorite and returning cast member Lexi Windsor answered some questions about the show and her upcoming role this season:
OKASH: A Christmas Carol is back for its ninth year! How has doing this show become a holiday tradition for you?
LW: Lyric’s A Christmas Carol has become a holiday tradition for quite a few of its 12 person adult cast. Seven of the original 12 who started in 2011 are still with the company 9 years later! A Christmas Carol “Family” has certainly formed; a theatre-family to be sure. I was so honored to be a part of the inaugural production in 2011, and I feel so lucky to keep getting asked back. I believe I keep coming back year after year because I know I have that theatre-family bond that we have forged throughout the years. We support one another, lift each other up when times get tough, celebrate victories, and partake in a lot of laughter! We spend the majority of our holiday evenings and weekends in Lyric’s Plaza Theatre, with no time for outside Christmas parties, or other holiday events… BUT, we have each other. We have our own Dirty Santa Party, Ugly Sweater Competition, Christmas Mad Libs, Advent prizes, custom ornaments, we invent new lyrics to traditional Christmas carols, and somehow, delicious treats & sweets always seem to appear.
We also made up our very own special ghost, called: “The Ghost of Christmas Awesome!” who helps someone in need each year. Our dressing rooms are full of Christmas lights & tinsel, and the Plaza Theatre becomes our holiday home, where we have the amazing opportunity to share a very special story almost every day of the holiday season: Charles Dickens’ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, beautifully adapted and directed by Michael Baron. We travel downtown together to sing at the annual Tree-Lighting and we are often found caroling around town for private events. It is always lovely to hear of families who have made Lyric’s A Christmas Carol production a part of their Oklahoma holiday tradition. The cast collects money after every show for the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, and over the past 8 years we have collected roughly $150K to help feed Oklahomans in need. It is often in the lobby, after a performance where we hear how our theatre experience has touched lives, started traditions and tugged heartstrings.
OKASH: One of the important themes of the story is the idea of keeping Christmas in your heart and honoring it all year. What does that mean to you? And how do you think this production conveys that idea?
LW: One of my favorite quotes from A Christmas Carol is: “But you were always a good man of business, Jacob,” faltered Scrooge… “Business!” cried the Ghost. “Mankind was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were, all, my business.”
I love this quote because I feel it rings so true. We often get so caught up in our lives and our “business” that we so easily forget that loving our fellow man is our greatest gift. I also sweetly adore that A Christmas Carol has a message of forgiveness within it. Of course forgiveness to others, but so often where we forget; to ourselves. The opportunity to make each day a new day, and to let go of the past and that which no longer serves us. To be gentle and kind to ourselves, as well as others. To create the person we would love to be. That it isn’t too late to change and shift the parts of us that we wish were more generous, charitable and benevolent, making that our business. Allowance and forgiveness of ourselves, so we are willing to look at the eyes staring back at us in the mirror and say: “I love you.” Then, go share that with the world.
OKASH: Lyric’s Christmas Carol features two rotating children’s casts. What’s exciting about working with two new groups of young artists each year? And how does this show help prepare them for future work?
LW: My father, Bob Windsor, who was Lyric Theatre’s first choreographer in 1963, was of course the man who inspired me to pursue musical theatre. Growing up, watching him on the Lyric stage, I knew that that was exactly where I wanted to be as well. He had a similar holiday tradition with OKC Ballet’s THE NUTCRACKER, where he performed the role of Drosselmeyer in the ballet for almost 20 years. Little did I know, I would create my own theatre holiday tradition as well. Just like my dad got to see, over the years, so many young dancers grow up to become professional dancers who went on to dance with ABT and New York City Ballet. I have had the opportunity to watch young actors in the Lyric’s A Christmas Carol casts grow into amazing, talented young adults. Each year, there is a Holly and an Ivy cast of kiddos. It is always so sweet to have young, eager actors who are so excited to have landed a professional theatre job. The kiddos always bring a fresh new insight every year, which often keeps us veterans on our toes, but we also show them, by example, the basics of professional theatre etiquette and how to participate in respectful teamwork to get a show up and running.
One of my favorite success stories of watching the kiddos grow up is of Ashleigh Robinson, who was in the very first year of Lyric’s A Christmas Carol and played the role of Belinda Cratchit. Ashleigh went on to pursue musical theatre at Oklahoma City University and graduated May ’19. She currently holds the crown of Miss Oklahoma City and will compete for Miss Oklahoma in June of 2020 with her platform on inclusion for all abilities. Currently, she does a lot of speaking and fundraising for pediatric cancer and medical care. Seeing her at these events, I watch a shy little girl I once knew absolutely dazzle on stage!
Dirk Lumbard returns in his fourth production to play Scrooge. Charlie Monnot is Bob Cratchit, Thomas E. Cunningham is Jacob Marley/Mr. Fezziwig/Old Joe, Mateja Govich is the Ghost of Christmas Present, Susan Riley is a solicitor, Matthew Alvin Brown is Topper, Lexi Windsor is Belle, Jennifer Teel is Mrs. Fred and Brenda Williams is Mrs. Dilber. Also included is Andi Dema as Fred/Young Scrooge, Natalya Fisher as the Ghost of Christmas Past and Nakeisha McGee as Mrs. Cratchit.
The rotating children’s casts are the Holly Cast and the Ivy Cast. The Holly Cast includes Lexi Sendall as Martha, Caedmon Glossup as Tiny Tim, Jamaal Jackson as Peter, Gracie Boyd as Belinda/School Girl, Sydney Starr as Fan/Ensemble, Johnathon Lewis as Turkey Boy/Boy Scrooge, and Olivia Neumann as School Girl. The Ivy Cast stars Delaney Horton as Martha, Corbin Albee as Tiny Tim, Joe Kelley as Peter/Boy Scrooge, Emma Poindexter as Belinda/School Girl, Estella Stevenson as Fan/Ensemble, Brody Offel as Turkey Boy/Ignorance/School Boy, and Serena Feng as School Girl.
Lyric’s artistic team includes choreography by Ashley Wells, music direction by Brian T. Hamilton, lighting design by Weston Wilkerson, set design by Kimberly Powers, costume design by Jeffrey Meek, sound design by Brad Poarch and props design by Courtney Strong.
Lyric Theatre’s holiday tradition, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, opens on Black Friday and runs until Christmas Eve, November 29th-December 24th, 2019 at their Plaza Theatre. For tickets, visit lyrictheatreokc.com or call the box office, 405-524-9312. This production is presented by Devon Energy. Additional sponsors include Braum’s Ice Cream & Dairy Stores, AT&T Oklahoma, Mark & Beverly Funke/Simmons Bank and Pella Windows of Oklahoma.