Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Christmas at The Children's Theatre Company and School

Yuletide Greetings

Drawing by Steven Rydberg.


A most special time of year for artists and audiences alike, The Children's Theatre Company and School's Christmas repertoire was quickly embraced as an important and precious holiday tradition within the abundant Twin Cities performing arts cornucopia.  Beginning early on, a rotating holiday rep was established with adaptations of Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" (by playwright Frederick Gaines), a rollicking English "panto"-inspired "Cinderella" (adapted by John B. Davidson), soon joined by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" fashioned as a powerful dance piece adapted by John Clark Donahue.  Together these plays comprised a trio of shows to touch and inspire audiences young and old.  

On occasion, other plays would appear on the snowy landscape during the initial 25 years: "The Sleeping Beauty" in the style of Japanese Kabuki and Andersen's "The Steadfast Tin Soldier" (both adapted by Richard Shaw) as well as another adaptation of Charles Dickens entitled "Mr. Pickwick's Christmas," "Tomie de Paola's The Clown of God," Margery Williams' "The Velveteen Rabbit", "Beatrix Potter's Christmas" and de Paola's "Merry Christmas, Strega Nona" -- all scripted for the stage by resident playwright Thomas W. Olson.

Early on, the creation of a festive atmosphere pervaded the event of attending CTC during the holidays: the lobby (or fountain court when it resided in the auditorium of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts) festooned in seasonal decorations, with the sound of orchestral recorded music and/or live carolers culled from the cast along with various rosy-cheeked vendors of chocolates, oranges and pears, chestnuts, Christmas tree ornaments, London newspapers -- weaving in and out of the lobby and auditorium, with the aroma of pine boughs and incense in the air and smiles and shouts of great good cheer.  

Another tradition, most especially with "Cinderella," was interaction of characters with the audience.  At the end of the performance, Cinderella and her Prince would run up the aisle of the auditorium to the lobby and linger with the audience to share in wedding cake and tea or hot cider.  After "Beatrix Potter's Christmas," children and parents might have keepsake photos taken with Mrs. Puddle-Duck, Hedgehog, Mice, Bunnies, Squirrels.... 

Here are but a handful of memories in pictures, video, and music gathered together in celebration of the season.  Happy holidays!


A Christmas Carol...

Scrooge.
Tiny Tim . . . will he live?

Second Spirit.
He is very ill.  Even song cannot keep him whole through a cold winter.

Scrooge.
But you haven't told me!

Second Spirit.
(imitating Scrooge) If he be like to die, he had better do it and decrease the surplus population. (Scrooge turns away.)  Erase, Scrooge, those words from your thoughts.  You are not the judge.  Do not judge, then.  It may be in the sight of heaven you are more worthless and less fit to live than millions like this poor man's child.  Oh God!  To hear an insect on a leaf pronouncing that there is too much life among his hungry brothers in the dust.  Good-bye, Scrooge.

Scrooge.
But is there no happiness in Christmas Present?

Second Spirit.
There is.

Scrooge.
Take me there.

Second Spirit.
It is at the home of your nephew. . .

Scrooge.
No!

Second Spirit.
(disgusted with Scrooge) Then there is none.

Scrooge.
But that isn't enough. . . You must teach me!

Second Spirit.
Would you have a teacher, Scrooge?  Look at your own words.

Scrooge.
But the first spirit gave me more. . . !

Second Spirit.
He was Christmas Past.  There was a lifetime he could choose from.  I have only this day, one day, and you, Scrooge.  I have nearly lived my fill of both.  Christmas Present must be gone at midnight.  That is near now.  (He speaks to two beggar children who pause shyly at the far side of the stage.  The children are thin and wan; they are barefoot and wear filthy rags.)
Come.  (They go to him.)

Scrooge.
Is this the last spirit who is to come to me?

Second Spirit.
They are no spirits.  They are real.  Hunger.  Ignorance.  Not spirits, Scrooge, passing dreams.  They are real.  They walk your streets, look to you for comfort.  And you deny them.  Deny them not too long, Scrooge.  They will grow and multiply and they will not remain children.

Scrooge.
Have they no refuge, no resource?

Second Spirit.
(again imitating Scrooge)  Are there no prisons?  Are there no workhouses?  
(tenderly to the children)  Come.  It's Christmas Eve.  (He leads them offstage.)





























Cinderella...

Fairy Godmother.
Cinderella -- believe in yourself.  And believe in me.

Cinderella.
I want to believe.

Fairy Godmother.
Then not another word.  Come.  To the garden.
(Cinderella take a step toward the door. )
Oh, no -- not that way.  This way!
(With a flourish of her wand, the kitchen set bursts open and away to reveal a winter garden landscape stretching into infinity with snow gently falling and the Godmother now transformed into a beautiful ballerina. She welcomes the astonished girl into her arms as the orchestra swells and commences to play Maurice Ravel's Introduction and Allegro for Harp.)

Music excerpt:  Opening

http://www.mediafire.com/listen/oyijytnwige12tq/Cinderella_-_Opening.mp3









Music Excerpt: Christmas is aComin'

http://www.mediafire.com/listen/469j6rsd5vfd41l/Cinderella_-_Xmas_is_a%27Comin%27.mp3












The Little Match Girl...




Match Girl.
But Grandmama, does the Angel really only come down at Christmastime?  And only one night a year?

Grandmama.

Yes, it comes on New Year's Eve.  And it stays until the bells.  Then it's gone again for another year.

Match Girl.

Ohhh.

Grandmama.

But when it's here... when it's here the whole world is bright!  And the people...the people are filled with the brightness of the Angel and it makes them smile.  Just like you're smiling.  You know, it's easy to see that the Angel is in you, for your face is as bright as a winter star and your heart is as warm as our stove.

Match Girl.

Oh, Grandmama, do you really think so?

Grandmama.  

I know it.

Match Girl.

Grandmama?  May I tell you a secret?  A very special secret because I love you and you're my best friend.  I'm going to say a prayer.

Grandmama.

That's good.

Match Girl.

I'm going to pray to God that when when I die...

Grandmama.

Now, you shouldn't think about dying...

Match Girl.

That when I die, and if I'm good, that God will let me be the beautiful Christmas Angel that comes to Earth at Christmastime and makes the people smile.

Grandmama.

But we already have the Angel.

Match Girl.

Oh, yes, but you see, if I were the Angel, I would cry.

Grandmama.

"Cry?!"  But angels don't cry.

Match Girl.

No -- tears of joy, Grandmama.  And every tear would freeze as it falls and turn into a magic glass.  And they would cover the Earth: onto every building and chimney and, oh, into people's hair -- and everywhere!  And people will pick them up and look into them and see themselves.  And they will smile.  Just like you're smiling now, Grandmama -- the most beautiful smile of all their lives.  And the people will be so happy that they will never stop.  Forever.  So they will all be happy.  Because I am crying.



















Video:
Music Excerpts:  Music selected and adapted by Roberta Carlson from Prokofiev and Shostakovich.  Prologue: The Streets of Russia: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/5v5d55cr5ibuvh0/Match_Girl_-_Opening.mp3  The First Match:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/9ajjfpfnsauyq2j/Match_Girl_-_First_Match.mp3
A Gypsy Carnival:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/nc174vo1mpw7epe/Match_Girl_-_Gypsy_Carnival.mp3 By the Stove:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/w9nxvvxy3cbksvw/Match_Girl_-_By_the_Stove.mp3 Poor Family Gifts:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/okbjw3gjlihpjj3/Match_Girl_-_Poor_Family.mp3  Toy Shop Intro:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/1mt7i2tataumvt0/Match_Girl_-_Toy_Shop_Intro.mp3 Ballerina Doll:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/8czyus7bvmlkbvn/Match_Girl_-_Toy_Shop_Ballerina.mp3  Toy Shop Finale:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/h04x19eg70b1ez5/Match_Girl_-_Toy_Shop_Finale.mp3   Rich Family Feast:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/ucoqmxfh9j51j8z/Match_Girl_-_Rich_Family_Feast.mp3  Fur Girls Skating:  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/gsmdbrcilcfhuq8/Match_Girl_-_Skating.mp3  Cadets Skating: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/gkpimp15r5bhzqa/Match_Girl_-_Skating_Finale.mp3 Czar's Palace Arrivals: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/fyi8elud8nt2r9z/Match_Girl_-_Czar%27s_Palace_Arrivals.mp3  First Waltz: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/mc7nc4gqtdb44ge/Match_Girl_-_Czar%27s_Palace_First_Waltz.mp3  Match Girl Appears, Vision Fades: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/znrlncdrp21yu1y/Match_Girl_-_Czar%27s_Palace_Match_Girl_Appears.mp3  Vision Restored/Final Waltz: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/gybbazui0i0b9p9/Match_Girl_-_Czar%27s_Palace_Final_Waltz.mp3  A Spring Meadow: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/b24p7trfnp9s2jg/A_Spring_Meadow.mp3  Final Vision, Ascension, Epilogue: http://www.mediafire.com/listen/zs03vjzeyadbm2y/Match_Girl_-_The_Last_Match.mp3
Mr. Pickwick's Christmas...
Music Excerpts:  Original music composed and orchestrated by Hiram Titus.   Conducted by Richard Dworsky.   Lyrics from Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers.   Adaptation by Thomas W. Olson.   Friends Well Met  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/kne6hgwk1azbv2r/Mr_Pickwick%27s_Christmas_-_Friends_Well_Met.mp3   King of the Seasons   http://www.mediafire.com/listen/31sep6ou6jp40p1/Mr_Pickwick%27s_Christmas_-_King_of_the_Seasons.mp3   Finale  http://www.mediafire.com/listen/12ujxel44ex1810/Mr_Pickwick%27s_Christmas_-_Finale.mp3   Video:
Merry Christmas, Strega Nona (1987) Links to audio excerpts of the musical adaptation of the book by Tomie dePaola.   Music composed and orchestrated by Alan Shorter.  Lyrics by Shorter and Thomas W. Olson.   Adapted for the Stage by Thomas W. Olson.   Directed by Jon Cranney and Tomie dePaola. http://www.mediafire.com/listen/wpac5e0uq2j87vz/Overture_%26_Light_a_Candle.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/t5978dg7fa32wss/Merry_Christmas%2C_Strega_Nona_-_End_Sc_1_%26_Natale.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/rn7hm1sl2sbj3n5/Merry_Christmas%2C_Strega_Nona_-_End_Sc_2_into_Bakery.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/fqquskua7k53n7l/Merry_Christmas%2C_Strega_Nona_-_Anthem_to_Strega.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/2y2m25lkk4qczya/Merry_Christmas%2C_Strega_Nona_-_Act_2_Opening_Montage.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/86dos9bcs4vj3ej/06_Into_Act_2_Sc_2.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/y5ynh6vr88if8cv/07_Shepherds%27_Song.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/zpm1azd8basqgcc/Merry_Christmas%2C_Strega_Nona_-_Finale.mp3 

Beatrix Potter's Christmas (1986) 

Original play by Thomas W. Olson.  Music selected and adapted by Anita Ruth.  Directed and Choreographed by Myron Johnson.
http://www.mediafire.com/listen/z97x05udp77veqm/Beatrix_Potter_-_Mouse_House.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/jf781yva8a9xnzb/Beatrix_Potter_-_Puddleducks_Parlor.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/gpb27gbax7g4gb4/Beatrix_Potter_-_Country_Lane.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/vc82yvcyladsv8i/Beatrix_Potter_-_Kitten_Kitchen.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/35nls978cynudpt/Beatrix_Potter_-_Squirrels_A.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/6nww245e5g62x31/Beatrix_Potter_-_Squirrels_B.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/bqn0x11q0wxx4hi/Beatrix_Potter_-_Bunny_Bedroom.mp3 http://www.mediafire.com/listen/1391dc81szubsf0/Beatrix_Potter_-_Finale.mp3

Sleeping Beauty (1971) 

by Richard Shaw.  Directed by Gene Davis Buck.
The Velveteen Rabbit (1988) Based on the book by Margery Williams by Thomas W. Olson. Music composed and orchestrated by Alan Shorter. Videolink to Overture and Scene 1: Christmas. Vincent Kartheiser as James. June Gibbons as Nana. Audio Excerpt: Overture into Scene 1: Christmas. http://www.mediafire.com/listen/qrhii8xe1viceq6/01_Overture_%26_Sc_1.mp3



No comments:

Post a Comment