by Lorie Lewis Ham
As we see more and more local theatre companies and schools presenting shows online, one more theatre company has taken the leap this holiday season with their second virtual show! Lindsay Community Theater will be presenting A Christmas Carol online December 19 and 20! We took a moment to chat with the show’s director Alli Smith to learn more. She has been directing shows for Lindsay since 2016.
KRL: Why did Lindsay decide to do a virtual show?
Alli: We actually pitched an idea of doing an outdoor walk-through event featuring a series of holiday themed vignettes, but to be perfectly frank, between the city and the county health departments, we couldn’t get a clear answer on if we would be allowed to host this kind of event, so we decided to wait until we could get better information. We still wanted to do something for the holidays, and since the theater’s virtual Shakespeare had gone so well, we decided to give it a try once more.
KRL: Why did you pick A Christmas Carol?
Alli: Personally, I love A Christmas Carol. I love the traditional feeling it has, I love the story of how Christmas can last all year if you keep it in your heart and how Christmas can connect people through kindness and cheer. I felt like in a year that has felt so far from normal, it would be comforting for people to watch and be a part of something that feels timeless and familiar.
KRL: Is there a version written for being done virtually or did you have to rewrite the script to make that work?
Alli: Our theater has done this play many times in the past, and we are lucky to have a screenplay written by our very own theater manager, and pillar of our theater, Jim Kliegl.
KRL: Will this be the traditional version of the play?
Alli: Our version of the play is very traditional.
KRL: Were auditions done virtually?
Alli: Yes, auditions were done through an on-line form and through zoom. The great thing about doing things this way, is that we have brought in new people from outside of our immediate community. It’s always a good thing when your theater family grows.
KRL: Will the cast be together to record the show, or record separately and then put it together? If together, what are you having to do to meet safety guidelines?
Alli: The cast is all participating from their own homes, although we do have some siblings, and one married couple performing together. It was very important to the theater and our production crew that we do things as safely as possible, even though it means missing out on the comradery and joy of working in person with a great cast.
KRL: What has or will the filming process be like?
Alli: Luckily, I don’t have to worry about the tech side of the production. Jeremy Waterman and Jennifer Keeton are handling all of that. Instead of filming, we’ll be live streaming to Facebook and YouTube. It makes the tech side a little simpler, and it gives you that live theater feeling, where anything can happen.
KRL: How fun! Did you have to buy new equipment to be able to film?
Alli: Everyone is using what they have, so we haven’t had to buy much. Although personally for my participating children, we have invested in ring lights and a few people have purchased green screens.
KRL: What special challenges have you faced with this?
Alli: The biggest challenge is tech. Just the spectrum of phones, laptops or tablets that people use for connecting mean that the quality of video can greatly differ from camera to camera. And there have been nights where we have had internet struggles. It’s very much 2020 problems that I think every one can relate to right now.
KRL: When will the show be available and where?
Alli: The show will be on Facebook and YouTube live December 19 @6:30 p.m. and December 20 @ 2:00 p.m. These will both be separate live performances
KRL: How do people buy tickets and how much will they be?
Alli: The show is a free gift to our community, but we will be offering a link for anyone who would like to donate to our theater. As with all venues like ours, this has been a long year with little revenue and unfortunately, we don’t really have an idea of when things will be getting back to normal
KRL: Do you foresee doing more shows virtually?
Alli: For the foreseeable future, Lindsay Community Theater is committed to doing our part to fight Covid, so, yes. We want to continue to bring performing arts to the Central Valley and right now, doing that safely means doing theater virtually.
KRL: Anything else you would like to add?
Alli: I just want to add that this experience has been different, but good. The cast is talented, their enthusiasm and love for theater can be felt through the screen and I’m grateful to work with them and I’m grateful if what we do helps anyone feel a little more Christmas cheer in this difficult year. I hope our little play helps people have a Merry Christmas. And as Tiny Tim would say, “God bless us everyone.”
A Christmas Carol will be streaming on the Lindsay Community Theater YouTube Channel and Facebook page on December 19 @6:30 p.m. and December 20 @ 2:00 p.m.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors–many of whom you will have seen on local stages. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Play, and also on Podbean. A new Christmas episode went up this week!
Check out more theatre articles & other local entertainment articles (including many more online/streaming shows) in our Arts & Entertainment section.