A Christmas Carol Review

Yes, I have seen four musicals this year, but there is one show I saw this year that holds the same kind of importance. That would be the straight play, A Christmas Carol at Theatre Charlotte. As a matter of fact, I do not even remember if I even saw a show there (it is one of Charlotte’s community theaters). Do you know why it holds the same importance as Fiddler on the Roof, Miss Saigon, Aladdin, and Les Mis? That is because of the importance of A Christmas Carol in my life. A Christmas Carol entered my life a long time ago when I was either in elementary or middle school- by the George C. Scott movie. It soon became a tradition in my family to watch it every Christmas Season. So, now I would be seeing the stage show of it (I did watch Scrooge, the musical of A Christmas Carol, but do not think I remember a time when I saw watched the straight play. The difference with this show compared to any musical I saw was that my family actually knew one of the cast members- one of the main reasons why we wanted to watch it this year.

My Scrooge was Ron Law. It can be easy to compare him to George C. Scott’s Scrooge, but I did not. I was enjoying him more and more as the play continued. Who was the young Scrooge: Blake Harwood.

You also had Rick Taylor as Jacob Marley, Anna McCarty as Ghost of Christmas Past, Chip Bradley as Ghost of Christmas Present, John Rendlemen as Ghost of Christmas Future, Maxwell Greger as Bob Cratchit, Pearce Stinson as Tiny Tim, and Keyes Miller as Fred.

The ensemble was amazing- from the children to the adults. Literally, when I saw the costumes, it was like they were coming right out of the book. This is a small community theatre we are talking about. The special effects of the fog and the sounds gave the feeling that A Christmas Carol is supposed to when the Spirits come.

Meaning of A Christmas Carol

A couple days ago, I finally got to see the George C. Scott movie of A Christmas Carol. Of all Christmas Movies, that is the main one I hope to see. It is a tradition to actually see it. There is a lot of meaning in the story- what is it exactly?

For one thing- A Christmas Carol does have some nostalgia in it. That is due to the fact that I have loved the story since I was (I believe) either in middle or elementary school. So, it is quite important to my life.

It is also my favorite Charles Dickens’ story- it may be one of his shortest, but my favorite. It truly shows you the spirit of Christmas. The story has a lot of characters to fall in love with: from Scrooge to Tiny Tim; etc……It takes you on this incredible journey- Scrooge can seem can like a protagonist you can strongly dislike, but in reality, he is not. Yes, there are some characters you are around for only a short period of time, but they are important- to explain why Scrooge became the why he is. I love how Christmas Carol shows why people become who they are all the way to showing that you can change. Each of the spirits represent their particular time frame: of the past, present, and the future.

It is hard to explain why I love A Christmas Carol so much. That is what can make a good story- you somehow just know: do you know what I mean?

Christmas Movies I hope to Watch Every Holiday Season

We have our traditions. We have the things we hope to accomplish during the Holiday Season. For me, there are three movies in particular I hope to see- one of which has been watched for several years. What are those movies exactly?

White Christmas

  • While this is a musical movie, I would not watch it all year long. That is because it is holiday movie. It is kinda of hard to describe why I hope to watch this movie every Holiday Season.

Elf

  • This is one of the very few movies that my entire family watches during the Holiday movies. It is such a delight to watch. This might just be my favorite holiday movie if A Christmas Carol did not exist. It also is one of those movies that teaches you what Christmas Spirit is.

A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott)

  • Yes, I am a millennial, but of all Holiday movies, this is my favorite. It has been tradition to watch this for a very long time. There is something about A Christmas Carol that strongly drives you in. It truly shows you what Christmas Spirit is. It has an incredible cast of characters (yes, there are a lot). I love Scrooge, Tiny Tim, among others. You truly can feel connected to Scrooge- especially because you see his backstory come to life due to the Ghost of Christmas Past. I love seeing all of the Spirits come to life except the Ghost of Christmas Future (which creeps me out).

Are there any holiday movies you hope to see every Christmas Season?

All the Theaters I have Been to

It is known I have mostly seen musicals through Blumenthal Performing Art. What about all the theaters I have seen musicals? I decided to write a post that make a mention of ALL the theaters I have been to. However there is only ONE theater I don’t even know the name of.

St. Louis

  • Fox Theater- I have seen Annie and Fiddler and the Roof here. It is such a gorgeous theater. As you can see below, you can tell just how beautiful the theater is. I saw Annie in the orchestra and Fiddler up in the balcony- so I was able to fully appreciate the beauty of the Fox.

Greenville, South Carolina

  • Peace Center- I saw Phantom of the Opera and Les Mis at this beautiful theater. It has incredible acoustics- I was able to truly notice this when I saw Les Mis. Like Fox, I started in the orchestra with Phantom of the Opera, and my recent show, being Les Mis, I ended up in the balcony. It is incredible for that to happen. Both times I saw these shows were special- Phantom of the Opera was a date with mom and Les Mis was with my university. The reason why I was able to really notice how incredible the acoustics were in Les Mis belonged to the fact that I was sitting in the balcony (the 4th level)- to the way I heard a gunshot, to literally hearing just one tear (I literally was able to pick up on that), to the way just one word was said, or in more quieter moments still able to pick up on the words. Despite being in balcony- was able to hear everything.

Charlotte, NC- this is going to take a while

Blumenthal Performing Arts

Belk Theater- this is Blumenthal’s main theater. It has four levels- orchestra, grand tier, mezzanine, and balcony. I only remember sitting in orchestra and mezzanine. Not only does Belk do tours, it also does Charlotte Ballet events, and Charlotte Symphony Events. I saw Lion King, Miss Saigon, Newsies, Rent, Mamma Mia, Sound of Music, La Cage, Porgy and Bess, and Pippin at Belk Theater- most of these musicals are ones that I LOVE. It might seem like Belk Theater is the biggest theater of Blumenthal Performing Arts, but it actually isn’t.

Ovens Auditorium- What was surprising to me is that Ovens is actually the biggest Blumenthal Performing Arts theater. Ovens does have less levels than Belk. It has only two levels, but three sections- Mezzanine and Balcony share the second level. What makes Ovens a bigger theatre? Ovens is wider and deeper compared to Belk making it able to fit more people. I have seen only three musicals here- even though it feels like I have gone to Ovens more often than that. I think that is because one of those musicals is a repeat.

I have seen Addams Family, A Christmas Story, and Wicked here. I did not see shows at Ovens three times- it actually would add up to five times: Wicked was seen three times. The BEST area to see a musical at Ovens is in the Mezzanine. I have seen Wicked as a date with my dad and with my university- those are the other two times after my first time seeing Wicked at Ovens. Blumenthal’s upcoming season has more shows at Ovens then there typically is.

Central Piedmont Community College

Pease Auditorium- this theatre no longer exists at Charlotte’s community college, but when I was a student there, it did. My first musical I saw when I started college was Godspell. It is actually one of the smallest theaters I have seen a musical in. I still remember some of the costumes. Loved the show- three of those actors would show up in later productions I would see at CPCC.

Halton Theater- this may be a community college theater, but it actually has an orchestra and a balcony. I have seen Les Mis, Oklahoma, Grease, and Newsies at this theater. This shows all felt professional- you never once though you were at a community college’s theater. They combined students with the community and with professionals. I have seen Les Mis three times at this theater-once with family and twice as an usher: this was my first time seeing the stage show, and as a matter of fact was truly the motor for wanting to see the musical in London. CPCC has a very strong theater program- you go in, and you believe you are just going to see a community college type of production, and you come out thinking you just watched a professional production: that is what all four shows felt like.

Children’s Theatre
  • When I was an usher for Children’s Theatre, I did get to see one of their musicals. It was in December 2014, and I was ushering for Scrooge, which is A Christmas Carol’s musical. I remember seeing it, but don’t exactly remember any of the songs. There is something I do remember- I remember how talented the Tiny Tim was- there was a particular song that belonged to him, and I loved his voice in that song, and I was moved by it.

Boiling Springs, NC

  • Dover Theater- Boiling Springs is literally in the middle of nowhere. Dover Theater is where I saw musicals in Gardner Webb. The two musicals I saw were Little Shop of Horrors and Music Man. Music Man was actually the first show I saw at Gardner Webb, which was one of the best starts- especially when you transferred in Spring Semester. Music Man began the BEST year of musicals. I actually was kind of nervous when it comes to GWU musicals- these were musicals after CPCC- by that point, I only saw Les Mis and Godspell. I loved Music Man’s production, and the show itself. GWU has a smaller theatre program, but still can put on well-done productions.

Abingdon, VA

Barter Theater- Okay, this is one of the theaters I don’t remember going to. I did see Oliver here, but I have no memory of seeing it. I only know about it because I was told.

Jacksonville, FL

  • Jacksonville Theater- I don’t even know the name of the theater I went to in Jacksonville. Just like Barter, I don’t even remember going. I think my parents said I went to Cats and Seussical here in elementary school.

New York City

  • Gershwin Theater- this was my first theater I ever saw Wicked in. Little did I know when I stepped foot in that theater that I would be changed “for good”. It was August 2006, and I was alone with my mom- that was a HUGE reason why it was special- just me and my mom. That is part of why Wicked is meaningful. It is not all of why Wicked is meaningful. I was only 12 at the time. The song, “Popular”, was my favorite song at the time. It has been 13 years since I have been to NYC- I think it is time to go back, but next time, I want to see more than one musical.
Gershwin Theater-Wicked

London-West End

  • Queens Theater- I will always view this theater as The Queens Theater. It was what I knew it as when I saw Les Mis. Just like seeing Wicked on Broadway with my mom, I was seeing Les Mis in the West End with my mom. I feel like things came full circle when I saw Les Mis in London. Not only was I with my mom, but I was dreaming a dream. I sat in the 9th row from the stage. Plus, Les Mis is not just a musical- it made me passionate about musicals. When I saw Queen’s Theater, I literally thought I was imagining- it still felt that way when I bought souvenirs to when I saw that I had an understudy as Valjean to entering the auditorium to seeing the set to sitting down to noticing how close I was. Nothing felt real- that was how surreal it felt. Then it happened- I heard it- that one note (or notes) from the orchestra- I knew this was no dream happening- it was a dream actually happening. The notes did tell me something= that it was going to be more than expected- how can just a few notes make you know that? Those notes were not lying- it was more than expected. It was 110% worth it. At the end, I went to stage door, and my playbill was signed by the actor (Adam Bayjou) who played Jean Valjean. No words to describe the ENTIRE experience. This happened July 30th, 2015.

Conclusion

  • I sure have been to a number of theaters. I purposely ended on the theaters I saw on Broadway and the West End. As you can see, I mostly see musicals in Charlotte, my hometown. There have been times where I do see a musical somewhere else besides Charlotte, but that is not common. I feel like I want to eventually go see a musical at St. Louis’ MUNY- which is an outdoor theater, and I want to go back to NYC. If I go back to NYC- I want to see more than one musical. I don’t have vivid memories of Broadway- I want stronger memories. It is time for me to go back to the city. I might live in the states, but NYC is not easy to get to- so I am glad that Charlotte has Blumenthal Performing Arts.

Musicals of 2014, 2015, and 2018

I decided to talk about the years where I saw over three musicals- those years belonged to 2014, 2015, and 2018. 

2014– this year is strange. It does not feel like I saw over two musicals. This was the year I saw Phantom of the Opera, Porgy and Bess, Scrooge, and Annie. This year for some reason only feels like I saw only two musicals- but it was a year of four musicals. 

Phantom of the Opera- I fell in love with Phantom of the Opera in 2013 when my mom recommended it to me. I requested the songs on Pandora, and instantly fell in love with songs. The songs were why I wanted to see the stage show in the first place. Hearing the show was going to the Peace Center in Greenville (I did not wait for it to come to Charlotte) in 2014, I asked Santa for tickets to the musical. Santa did get me my ticket, and he also got my mom a ticket as well. 

The Peace Center in Greenville is a gorgeous theatre. My mom and I were in the orchestra in the 19th row (I think). I was spellbound from start to finish and got choked up by the beauty of the production and the talent of the actors and actresses. I do remember having an understudy for Christine. So glad I got to experience Phantom of the Opera at such a gorgeous theatre. 

Little did I know that one of the actors in the ensemble was going to become one of my leads in a future production, and I would go back to the Peace Center 3 years later. The reason why I was at the Peace Center in 2017 was because I saw Les Mis: Nick Cartell was the actor in the ensemble of Phantom of the Opera who became Jean Valjean, a very talented Jean Valjean. Just a fun fact. 

In front of a Phantom of the Opera poster at the Peace Center

Porgy and Bess- Part of why this year did NOT feel like I saw four musicals was because of this musical. I remembered seeing it, but a few years later (maybe two years), I had forgotten what year I had seen it. So 2014 felt like I only two musicals. Porgy and Bess was a musical I enjoyed seeing, but not a musical I exactly liked- do you understand what I mean by that. 

Scrooge- This musical I think was another reason why 2014 did NOT feel like four musicals. I do remember seeing Scrooge, but FORGOT the year- this year I was reminded it was 2014. I do remember being moved by one of the songs that Tiny Tim sang, but don’t know what song that was. I was an usher for Scrooge at Children’s Theatre in Charlotte. I am a Christmas Carol fan so of course I loved watching Scrooge- don’t remember much of it- just remembered being moved by one of Tiny Tim’s songs. 

Annie- Annie is not JUST a musical. It is not meaningful in the way Les Mis is. There is something about the childhood musicals that makes them extra special in a way- understand what I am talking about. Annie was my favorite musical up until Wicked entered my life. My mom told me Annie was going to be playing at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis. I ended up flying up to St. Louis alone to spend a week with my grandma- so Annie was a theatre date with me and my grandma. Watching Annie made me feel like a child- my grandma and I were in the front row. I only saw the movie of Annie- the 1982 version. I never saw the stage show- it has been in my life since elementary school. The Fox Theatre is another gorgeous theatre to see tours in. Annie means a lot to me- the childhood musicals have a different kind of meaning than the musicals that enter our lives much later in life. 

At the Fox Theatre in St. Louis getting ready to see Annie.
Fox Theatre in St. Louis

2015– NOW this year feels like FOUR musicals, and I really love the order of the musicals. Half of the musicals are what I would inexperienced, and the other half are what I would call experienced. 

Music Man- I transferred to Gardner Webb University Spring 2015. I knew they were doing a production of Music Man coming into Gardner Webb. So I already knew I was going to see Music Man. All I knew about the show was that the main character was a conman creating a boy’s band, and that there was romance, and I had heard about four to five songs. For me, I was curious about how Gardner Webb could handle musicals- after all I transferred from Central Piedmont Community College, a college that can do well-done productions that feel professional, so my question was how well can Gardner Webb pull a musical off. I loved Gardner Webb’s production of Music Man. I love how light-hearted Music Man is, and is the best start to the beginning of 2015’s musicals. Little did I know what 2015 had in store for musicals. 

Pippin- I knew Pippin was coming to Charlotte on tour for a 2nd time. I missed Pippin the 1st time. I wanted to see Pippin so badly because of how much I love “Corner of the Sky”. A preview convinced me further- I knew it was a circus-natured revival, and that it won a Tony for best revival. It got closer and closer to Pippin’s opening in Charlotte, and I kinda got the feeling that I WASN’T seeing Pippin. I almost thought Pippin was sold out. Then the week before Pippin opened, my mom decided to get tickets- GUESS WHAT- she managed to get the last two tickets with seats together. That was a close one- I almost didn’t get to see Pippin- Pippin almost didn’t become a part of my life- that is kinda of a strange thought. 

Pippin was darker than Music Man. It was due to the Leading Player, the antagonist of the musical. Think of the revival as a circus with songs- that is the best way to describe it. I had understudies for BOTH Pippin and the Leading Player with me being more intrigued by the Leading Player. That’s a first- being much more fascinated by the antagonist- then again Lisa Karlin was the true standout of the cast- everything I know about the Leading Player comes from her. My mom’s last minute tickets got us seats in the 5th row in the orchestra. Pippin was what I would call “the spectacle show of the year”.  The revival version of Pippin has one of the best openings ever. Right at intermission- I bought the soundtrack. Pippin would be the last inexperienced musical of 2015. Coming in, I knew I would love Pippin- after all already fell in love with Wicked and Godspell, two other Stephen Schwartz musicals. 

In front of a Pippin sign at Belk Theater. 2nd of 4 musicals in one year.

Les Mis (West End)- this could take a while. I developed my dream of seeing Les Mis in London in 2013. In that year, I was aware of the Bristol Pilgrimage my family church was going on- the choir was in residence at Bristol Cathedral, and parishioners were allowed to go, but I did not think of the possibility of Les Mis- only because there was no talk of going up early or staying extra days. I was interested in the pilgrimage because of Stonehenge and the castle.

Fast forward to Nov. 2014- my parents said my family is going up two days early- that is when I started convincing my mom and dad to take me to Les Mis. Then Dec. 2014- I was told I would be seeing a West End show- but I wasn’t told which one. I badly wanted to know- it just had to Les Mis- it couldn’t be any other musical. I transferred to Gardner Webb Spring 2015, and all semester was nagging my parents to tell what West End show- after all seeing Les Mis in London was my dream. Then it became June 2015- my mom texted me French Flag emojis and musical note emojis- I texted her back saying “I don’t get it”. I was told to check my email- the moment I saw Les Misérables- I ran to my mom crying. I couldn’t believe- two years after seeing Les Mis on stage for the first time, I was seeing Les Mis in London. 

July 30th, 2015- show day. The moment I saw the Queen’s Theatre, I felt like that couldn’t be real. It felt that way when buying souvenirs, when seeing the set and when sitting down and noticing how close I was (we were in the 9th row). I knew I had an understudy for Jean Valjean. The moment I heard the first note of the orchestra- I knew that I was living a dream- that note also told me this is going to be more than expected. I am that girl who does treat the orchestra as a character- it was more than expected- the orchestra, the cast, and staging. It was epic in scope, full of such passion and emotion, and powerful. It felt like winning the lottery. I mean to live a dream is crazy- it is quite special to you- it seems surreal at first, but something does tell you it is real- it was the first note. I could on and on about what day was like. You get the picture. 

In front of the Queen's Theatre before seeing Les Mis in the West End- a dream come true
“I Dreamed a Dream”

Sound of Music- Here’s the thing, I was so convinced Les Mis was my LAST musical this year. Turns out I was so wrong. It wasn’t my last musical. It would be Sound of Music, another childhood musical. Both Sound of Music and Les Mis were the experienced musicals. The thing with Sound of Music was I only knew the movie. I never saw the stage show before. I remember it being about October (I think)- I think being in my dorm room-  my mom telling me I was seeing Sound of Music. I saw it with my mom and sister. 

Sound of Music had a different order of songs- one such surprising moment was at “Edelweiss”. Sound of Music never had sadness in its songs for me- turns out I felt it during “Edelweiss”- it seemed to be a combo of the actor and the nostalgia attached to that song- “Edelweiss” was and still is my favorite song from the song. So I cried during two musicals this year- Les Mis and Sound of Music. Sound of Music NEVER had sad in its songs before- so I was shocked that it entered- but it entered in the middle of “Edelweiss” at a short pause- that moment was so short, but so powerful- it was right before the children started singing.

In front of a Sound of Music sign at Belk Theater

2018– This was my 5 musical year. I graduated from college this year. I did not think it would end up with 5 musicals. 

Oklahoma- This was my 5th theatre date with mom. I was back at Central Piedmont Community College, the college where I started my college journey. I saw Godspell and Les Mis there in the years 2012 and 2013. As expected, Oklahoma was a well-done production. It had minimal set, and the actors moved the set pieces, and things flowed smoothly. It felt nice to see a show again at Oklahoma: two of the actors I seen previously at CPCC were in Oklahoma- they played Laurey and Will Parker, who were in Godspell and fun fact: the girl who Laurey was also in the ensemble of Les Mis. 

About to see Oklahoma at community college.
Oklahoma

Grease- This time at CPCC, I saw Grease with my sister and one of our friends. Just like Sound of Music, I had seen the movie, but not the stage show. So I did not know different the movie was. CPCC had gotten special permission to use four songs that were not originally in the stage production. The moment the show began, I knew CPCC did it again with shows feeling professional. I could easily tell just how different the stage show was than the movie: the songs- some songs that are in the stage show are not in the movie. 

Driving along in the Grease car. Fun musical.
Grease

Newsies- I have been a fan of Newsies since I saw the tour August 2016. So basically 100% convinced not going to see it: Best friend from college shows up at house: drives to CPCC: saying want to see campus: then saying wanting to see theatre while in will call line: all to pick up Newsies tickets. That is basically what she did: her graduation present to me was tickets to Newsies at CPCC. I just wanted to see Newsies at CPCC to see how they could handle the dance knowing how complicated it is. Fun fact: my Curly was Jack Kelly. 

Looks like I am in a newspaper. Newsies surprise!!!
Courage cannot erase our Fear. Courage is when we face our Fear. -Seize the Day

Lion King- I only wanted to see Lion King on tour because I DON’T remember seeing the stage show the first time. My mom, my sister, and I went to see it. We had orchestra seats at the aisle. The opening draws you in right away. I had an understudies for Rafiki and Pumba. I ended up getting a Lion King snow globe and buying the soundtrack. I already knew I would love Lion King. 

Girls Night Out. Lion King- in front of a Lion King poster.
Lion King

A Christmas Story, the Musical-I saw this with Club Blume, a young adult group interested in theatre. This might sound like a not good idea for a musical considering that its based off of a movie. The composer/lyricst team are the same team who brought you Dear Evan Hansen, La La Land, and Greatest Showman- I know this because of an informance I did in Nov. through Club Blume. The musical was funny and good and so were the songs. It was such a delight. Just like 2015, I was 100% my 2nd to last musicals was my FINAL musical- well it wasn’t. When I saw what musicals were in the 2018-2019, I saw A Christmas Story, I was not interested- then at the informance when I heard it was the same team who did Greatest Showman I wanted to go. 

In front of A Christmas Story, The Musical sign
A Christmas Story

There is a reason why I talked about 2014, 2015, and 2018. I saw over 3 musicals each year. My average tends to be 1-2, but those years were over 3. That doesn’t happen much. You might think 2018 was the best year I ever had for musicals, but it wasn’t. 2015 still is my favorite year for musicals: it had to do with the musicals that came with it: the new musicals- Music Man and Pippin were ones that I love and have the songs for. What really makes 2015 the best musicals was Les Mis in the West End- that was my dream- I lived it that year, and even words alone cannot describe what that night was like for me.