Do you remember in A Charlie Brown Christmas when Charlie Brown is asked to direct the Christmas play as an anecdote for his Christmas time blues? He is depressed over the over-commercialized version of Christmas and wants to set the right “mood” for the play. In an attempt to set the proverbial stage, Charlie goes in search of a tree and finds the only real tree on the lot. It is a scrawny little thing that earns Charlie ridicule from the kids, but turns out to be the very thing that saves them all from missing the true meaning of Christmas. It is a famous Christmas Classic that warms hearts every year. This is how I would describe A Christmas Carol performed at the Hurricane Arts Center.
Monday night was the last showing of A Christmas Carol at the Hurricane Arts Center. I loaded my family up and headed out to see my favorite Christmas Classic on the stage. I had been itching to see it performed somewhere all month and drove to the theater in anticipation. We showed up to a non-descript city building and made our way in. We were greeted with live music by Raven Cain from local band Mister Hyde while we waited for the show to begin. The theater was not crowded, but was filled with families, and what appeared to be locals, out for some fun family entertainment.
The stage was set to look like London, with the Cratchet’s house and Scrooge’s office and bedroom in the fore-front. A brightly lit Christmas tree was set up as well. After watching the show it was clear that this playhouse did not have the type of funding that other local theaters do, nor did they have the cast, but they did have the heart. I sat and watched an hour and a half rendition of my favorite Christmas story performed by local kids, most of whom played multiple roles – and it was great!
The most memorable actors were two teenagers: Gabriel Ennis (15 years old) who played Scrooge and Tristain Tisdale (17 years old) who played a lead vendor, Marley’s Ghost, the ghost of Christmas present, and the young Scrooge. Their performances were outstanding and added enjoyment and laughter to the night – my kids giggled through many of their “moments.” I am certain those two names will reappear again and again around these parts.
My heart was warmed by this local performance and I hope that the community comes out to support this new up-and-coming playhouse. We were told that Peter Pan is coming next so keep an eye out for it. The Hurricane Arts Center is new to southern Utah and has some serious competition as it seeks to gain recognition and attendance in this arts heavy location.
A Christmas Carol was the fourth show since their premier in August. The Hurricane Arts Center is a tax exempt organization that is seeking sponsorship. Let’s hope some local businesses will chip in and help give this playhouse a leg up support a local theater, local talent, and the next generation to carry forth the proud arts tradition here in southern Utah.
While this was not a flashy or well-funded performance, it was a local performance that captured my heart and left me leaving with the Christmas Spirit Charlie Brown bemoaned is missing so glaringly from our consumption driven society. I am told that the Utah High School for the Arts is the oldest high school for the arts program in Utah and has a relatively new, and award-winning, film school. As a matter of fact, they are doing promo films for BAM and Hurricane City. I expect great things from Hurricane and am willing to bet it will grow into a worthy competitor for other venues. Check it out.