Bay Ridge will soon be enjoying a dose of old-school Christmas cheer.
The M Center for the Performing Arts, in association with Genesis Repertory, is bringing Charles Dickens’ beloved “A Christmas Carol” to the nabe’s Christ Church with a twist. Instead of being a traditional stage production, it will be performed as a live re-creation of Orson Welles’ Mercury Theater-on-the-Air radio broadcast.
Jay Michaels, who will be playing Scrooge and serves as production manager, is excited to bring this unique take on a holiday classic to the neighborhood.
“We’re very happy at Christ Church, so we decided to do a fundraiser for them and do ‘A Christmas Carol,’” he explained. “We’ve played this show in Brooklyn before, but it’s the first time we’re doing it in Bay Ridge. This time, we’re adding old Christmas tunes that might have been around during the time of the original production.”
Mary Elizabeth Micari, the founder of the performance academy, will be directing the show.
“She is thrilled with it,” Michaels said. “It’s a great opportunity for her students. The audience is already excited. We have a lot of people calling us for reservations and when they finish confirming, they say they’re bringing the whole family. I love ‘A Christmas Carol.’ I’ve been doing it since the ’80s so for me it’s not Christmas without this show.”
“Everyone had training sessions so they know how to walk and talk like they did in the 1930s with the patrician accents,” he said. “We’ve set it up so the audience can see more and is not as enclosed. Aside from getting the Christmas story, they get to see what it was like 75 years ago.”
“Presenting a radio play allows us to educate our audience in so many levels of the arts in a unique and entertaining way,” added Micari.
With rehearsals underway, the cast and crew have already come together seamlessly.
“The actors are doing great,” Michaels said. “It was a culture shock at the beginning because a lot of them didn’t know about the radio play so it became a learning session,” he said. “They’re all Brooklyn residents and part of Mary’s vocal program so they’re excellent singers and actors. Many of the students have been with Mary for quite a while. A lot of them have garnered professional credits. They’re all having a great time and learning a lot.”
Michaels is excited for the local attendees to experience the show.
“When you walk out of any Christmas show, whether it’s Radio City or a small neighborhood show, you want the audience to be happy,” he said. “They’ve done something interesting and wonderful for the holidays so it gets them in good spirits. It also brings the arts into their lives in new and unique ways.”
The importance of local community theater was also stressed.
“It’s more important than people know,” he said. “’Hello Dolly’ tickets are $1,000, ‘Hamilton’ tickets are $900. People can’t go to see Broadway anymore. It’s become something only the extremely wealthy can afford. If they can’t get there, then we need to bring it to them. If they can come to us and see a professionally done production, then we have given them a great Christmas present.”
“A Christmas Carol” will be performed at Christ Church Bay Ridge, 7301 Ridge Boulevard at 7 p.m. on Saturday night, December 23. The presentation is a benefit for the church. Tickets are $20 and $10 for seniors and children under 12. To make reservations, call 646-338-5472 or email firstname.lastname@example.org