With Christmas right around the corner, the theatre arts department is presenting two Christmas-themed plays to get you in the Christmas spirit: A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life.
A Christmas Carol, directed by Dr. Ryan Meers, will be performed at 7:30 p.m., Dec. 3-6 and Dec. 8-12, with a 2 p.m. matinee performance Dec. 6, in Performance Hall. The $12 tickets, which quickly sold out, went on sale through Programs & Productions at the box office in Rodeheaver Auditorium and online at bju.universitytickets.com Saturday, Nov. 22, at 8 a.m.
The 34-member cast of the play will perform the only full-scale musical that has been written specifically for BJU to perform. The musical includes five original songs and a newly adapted script by Lydia Stewart and Paul Keew. This adaptation of the musical premiered in December 2010 at BJU, making this year the second time the musical has been performed here on campus.
“I’ve loved collaborating with the actors and letting them get creative with their roles,” Meers said. “It’s been interesting having to rely on other people for the musical aspect of the play.”
Matt Jones, a senior theatre art major who plays the role of Jacob Marley, said this musical has been a big undertaking. “Putting on a musical of this scale and spectacle has forced us to put in extra hours of rehearsal,” Jones said. “Obviously lines and blocking are a big part of this production, but we also have choreography, music and a significant number of special effects to work with.”
Although the script and songs were written only a few years ago, the storyline of A Christmas Carol does not deviate from the original plot of Charles Dickens’ novella by the same title.
“It’s an incredibly wonderful, faithful adaption,” Meers said. “It’s been a tremendous experience to direct this.”
It’s a Wonderful Life, directed by Mrs. Anne Nolan, will be performed at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 5 and 6, with a 7:20 pre-show beforehand, in Stratton Hall. Tickets will be available from Programs & Productions beginning Nov. 29 for $6.
The 1946-themed onstage radio play will bring the classic Christmas story to life through the voices and sound effects of Peter Anglea, Meg Jones, Becca Gossage, Ben Nicholas and Sterling Street, with Colton Beach accompanying on the piano.
“You have no idea what to expect,” Nolan said. “It comes to life in ways you won’t expect. You’ll be more engaged than you would ever think.”
Using approximately 100 different props and sound effects, like lasagna noodles, old keys and a belt, the five actors make every detail come alive for their audience.
“I had to get to a point where seeing a specific name on a page meant that I immediately thought of that character’s story: who they are, where they’ve been, how they relate to the other characters,” said Ben Nicholas, a senior theatre arts major who voices 13 different characters in the radio play. “I got to know each of my 13 characters, and that intimacy with them allowed me to discover who they are and importantly for this show, what they sound like.”
The actors will be dressed in time-era clothing, and the set will use time-era décor and microphones.
The play will also carry a telegraph theme, where audience members can purchase and send a 50-cent telegram to friends on campus before the play at a table from 12-1:30 p.m., Dec. 2-4, in the Dixon-McKenzie Dining Common lobby.
The audience also plays a large part in the radio play because the actors play off the audience’s emotions.
Applause lights will flash when appropriate, and the audience members are encouraged to express their reactions during the play.