by Lorie Lewis Ham
Kelly Ventura will be performing a one-man show of A Christmas Carol on December 7 and 8 for only 2 performances in Visalia at the Main Street Theatre. The show is a fundraiser for The Enchanted Playhouse. We sat down to chat with Kelly about the show.
KRL: What made you decide to do a one-man show of A Christmas Carol?
Kelly: Great question. I became reacquainted with the story in 2004 and having been in theatre since I was a kid, I thought it would make a great show, and I was crazy enough to try it myself. So, I’ve traveled throughout CA performing this show each December since 2005. I’ve performed as few as two or three shows and as many as ten or 12 in a month. I’m excited for the opportunity to perform at the Main Street Theatre, a place that’s become my second home over the past 6 years. After I leave here, I travel down to southern CA for two more shows.
KRL: Did you adapt the show yourself?
Kelly: I did. Of course, I’ve become acquainted with Patrick Stewart’s and Jim Dale’s audio versions which are phenomenal, but many of my characters are sort of bits and pieces of people I’ve known or met. The show has morphed over the 13 years I’ve performed. I play roughly 16 characters throughout the night. It gets a bit crowded sometimes!
KRL: Have you ever done a one-man show before?
Kelly: Yes. Of course, I’ve done longer monologues and pieces throughout High School and college and I have two other one-man shows I regularly do. One of them is sort of a dramatic retelling of the Gospel of John. I really enjoy it. I was watching the movie The Man Who Invented Christmas and laughed during the scene where Dan Stevens as Charles Dickens is walking about London with all the characters from A Christmas Carol following him around. In my own way I was like, “Hey…I know what that’s like!”
KRL: What is your background in theatre?
Kelly: I started acting in about fourth or fifth grade. It was a total fluke how I got on stage, but I did this comedy bit and I got genuine laughs and I was like…”Oh yeah! This is what I want to do!” Then I did theatre throughout high school and college, and I was very fortunate to have teachers along the way who helped me tremendously. I do my best to pass along their same advice and encouragement to my cast members today. I also directed a summer touring show for students for about 8 years. Then I took a break for a bit and was invited to be a part of The Enchanted Playhouse back in 2012.
KRL: What is the hardest part of doing this show?
Kelly: I would say that being alone on stage for an hour and fifteen minutes is terrifying and thrilling all at once. Anyone who has done it knows exactly what I’m talking about. I do have to say though that it is very intimidating to realize that Chris Mangels from COS did a one-man version of A Christmas Carol at Main Street Theatre in I think it was 2005. He is phenomenal, and I am definitely not him by any stretch of the imagination.
KRL: What has been the most fun?
Kelly: I have added a couple of scenes this year, and actually although it is a “one-man show” I am joined for a brief time on stage by another actor, my daughter, Lauren Ventura. She’s watched this show develop since she was 4 or 5, and it’s great to finally have her in the show. From a father’s standpoint it’s (again) terrifying and thrilling to see your child follow in your footsteps.
KRL: Do you change costumes throughout, or just change your voice?
Kelly: I do some costume changes throughout the show, however, I remain relatively neutral in my make up design and costume design, so as to facilitate moving in and out of the 16 characters or so. This also makes each costume piece kind of pop and bring the character to life. I didn’t want this to be Scrooge telling the story, but I wanted a separate “storyteller” sort of like a Shakespearean chorus, kind of unfolding each character as they make their appearance. And yes…I do many voices. I freak my family out a bit when I rehearse at home.
KRL: What do you like best about the story itself?
Kelly: One of my favorite quotes from the book is from Scrooge’s nephew when he says, “I have always thought of Christmas-time as a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys.”
With that in mind, I wanted the show to hold true to the original themes of the Dickens story. I think audiences will enjoy the themes of forgiveness, second chances, and hope. With everything in the world being so crazy right now, I think everyone will appreciate that. I wanted to also emphasize in the show some of the classic “over arching” Dickensian themes or issues that characterize his entire body of work such as social injustice, poverty, and inequality. I think those issues are relevant today.
KRL: When and where will this show take place and how do we purchase tickets?
Kelly: The show is December 7 at 7 p.m. and December 8 at 6 p.m. at the Main Street Theatre, 307 E Main St.,Visalia, California. Tickets are available online at www.enchantedplayhouse.org or at the box office. We are doing a free ticket giveaway on 89.7 FM as well.
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
Kelly: Yes, each night we will be doing a Toy Drive to benefit Family Services of Tulare County. Bring an unwrapped toy for a child and receive $2 off admission any night. Ticket sales will benefit the Enchanted Playhouse Theatre Company’s educational programs.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out our new Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. The first 10 episodes are now up! You can check the podcast out on iTunes and Google Play, and also on podbean. Also check out our other theatre articles and reviews in our Arts and Entertainment section.