The Performance Network Theatre and Theatre Nova will each offer holiday themed shows this Christmas season. Both productions will open on November 27 and run through December 20.
Performance Network Theatre
Performance Network Theatre will present a new adaptation of the classic Dickens tale, A Christmas Carol. Their version is titled, An A Capella Carol, and PNT Artistic Director, Suzi Regan told us about it.
“Our Executive Director, John Manfredi wrote this adaptation. It’s going to be a radio play, like A Prairie Home Companion. We’ve got a reader who will read the Dickens adapted text and we’ve got four singer actors who will be doing all the singing and all the sound effects. We’ll be watching the radio play happening.”
They’re all familiar standard carols, but who knows, once we go into rehearsal maybe we’ll find an opportunity to write something new. We’re using the three weeks of rehearsal to flesh out the script and to play with it, making it a theatrical event. There will be no instruments; we’re not going to have pre-show music or any sort of canned sound effects. We’ll do it all on stage. For instance a doorknocker will be a doorknocker on stage. I’ve always found it really cool to watch sound designers discover ways of creating amazing sound effects using ordinary materials.
It’s a classic but we’re excited too because a lot of people are used to watching A Christmas Carol on stage, fully realized with costumes and sets and props, just the largeness of it all, all the dots connected. Instead, we’re going for the simple storytelling, which is fun as well, being able to see the pictures in your mind. This way it’ll be a completely different experience
An A Capella Choir: November 27-December 20
Performance Network Theatre, 120 E. Huron St.
734-663-0681 | pntheatre.org
Theatre Nova will also present a British inspired play, but with an American twist. An Almost British Christmas is a takeoff on the traditional British Pantomime. Theatre Nova’s founder, Carla Milarch explained.
“Pantomime doesn’t mean the same thing in England as it does here. When we think of pantomime we think of guys with white makeup, berets and striped shirts, but it’s nothing like that at all. Panto is much more like vaudeville meets melodrama meets comedia dell’arte. It’s a mash up of audience participation, standup comedy, musical performance and stock characters. There is the comic lead who is the narrator and comes in and welcomes the audience and throws candy at the kids.”
You’re creating your own version, not reproducing a British production.
No. A Panto is very much like sketch comedy, vignettes that string together along an existing storyline. Becky Fox, Russ Schwartz and I are writing it, and then we’ll take it into rehearsal and improvise along with the cast. Ryan Mackenzie-Lewis, who is a composer and music director, and has done Panto before, is writing all the music and songs, including crazy lyrics.
The other thing about Pantos are that they are very much community events. You involve the community in the production, which is one of the things that drew me. We’re bringing in student choirs from local schools, and the Children’s Creative Center, we’re bringing in local celebrities and each show will have a different celebrity, Santa Claus may show up, and people can check our website to see who is coming when.
An Almost British Christmas: November 27-December 20
$20, suggested ticket price
Theatre Nova, 416 W. Huron St.
734-635-8450 | theatrenova.org