Inside “A Christmas Carol” in OKC

Lyric Theatres outdoor production of A Christmas Carol is spreading Christmas cheer this holiday season.

Miki Galloway

Lyric Theatre’s outdoor production of “A Christmas Carol” is spreading Christmas cheer this holiday season.

Kelsi Seltenreich, Managing Editor

For over a decade, Lyric Theatre of Oklahoma (LTOK) has been entertaining audiences with their annual holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol.” But when COVID-19 came along, the show could no longer be done in its traditional form. LTOK and its directors thought creatively to not only make the show work but to make it an immersive experience like never before. In 2020, “A Christmas Carol” was moved to the Harn Homestead and transformed into a walkthrough production with the show taking place on porches, trees, barns and through other creative outlets along the way. This year’s production marks the third and final year at the Harn Homestead before moving the production back inside at the Plaza Theatre, and it did not disappoint.

Jonathan Beck Reed and W. Jerome Stevenson each returned for their third years at the Harn Homestead as Ebenezer Scrooge, with Reed performing the first three weeks and Stevenson the last three. People that haven’t yet seen the show missed out on Reed’s performance; from accent to attitude he led the company as Scrooge spot-on. Stevenson’s first show was Tuesday Dec. 6, and he has also proven to be a fan-favorite. Another cool aspect about the show is there are two casts for the rest of the performers: Holly and Ivy. Each cast performs eight shows per week, alternating weeks.

The show begins with the lamp lighters (also called the audience hosts) welcoming everyone then leading them to the first location: Scrooge & Marley’s. The story then takes off as Scrooge exits onto the porch and is seen being a “Scrooge” to the community, his nephew Fred (Holly and Ivy: Matthew Alvin Brown) and his employee Bob Cratchit (Holly: Charlie Monnot/Ivy: Kaleb Michael Bruza). As the story moves along Scrooge is haunted by the ghost of Jacob Marley (Holly: Jason Bias/Ivy: Rodney Brazil) and is visited by the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. It is hard to believe that money-focused Scrooge can change his ways, but people will have to see the production to find out for themselves.

The show was impressively directed by Michael Baron and co-directed/choreographed by Ashley Wells. They were able to turn an outdoor museum in Oklahoma City into a town in early-1800s England through creative blocking that keeps the audience engaged. After the ghost of Marley has appeared at Scrooge’s house, the audience is sandwiched between the two characters as they interact, making the audience feel a part of the interaction. As Marley comes nearer to Scrooge, the lamp lighters help guide a path and Marley actually walks through the audience as if he is parting the sea.

Lighting Designer, Fabian Garcia, utilized light to make the ghosts seem more realistic and to add many more elements to the story. Not only was it easy to see the details in the actors’ faces, but the lighting was used to swiftly change the mood.

Another fun aspect of the show is the child-actors. Many of the lamp lighters and most of the Cratchit family are played by K-12 students, keeping the show even more realistic. Some may even recognize Shawntel Black (Holly) from her role in one of LTOK’s recent summer productions, “Matilda the Musical,” where she became an audience-favorite for her portrayal of Lavender.

The exception to the Cratchit children being played by real children is the puppet that holds the role of Tiny Tim. During the midst of the pandemic, this allowed Tiny Tim to still be put on people’s shoulders while adhering to social distancing rules, and now it is simply a part of the show that makes it more unique. The idea of a puppet character sounds odd, but it worked very well and the audience didn’t seem to mind. Tiny Tim even has his own Instagram account.

A ticket to the show costs $62 for adults, however, there are other less costly options. Students and teachers that arrive up to an hour before the show can claim a $20 ticket with their school ID, or LTOK also offers a volunteer program open to anyone. Volunteers that have signed up simply arrive early and help patrons before and after the show and in exchange they can see the performance at no cost. With all these options the show is accessible to almost everyone.

The show runs for just under three more weeks, with the final performance on Dec. 23. Don’t miss “A Christmas Carol” for its last season at the Harn Homestead.

 

Contact Kelsi Seltenreich at [email protected]s.net