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‘A Christmas Carol’ Like You’ve Never Seen Before

by | Nov 11, 2022 | Arts

Don’t be stingy this Christmas, with all the special holiday events Salisbury and Rowan County have to offer, there is plenty of fun to go around.

Treat yourself to Piedmont Players’ new adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” by Executive Director Bradley Moore. It’s not like any “Christmas Carol” you’ve seen before.

Moore adapted the musical from the novel and used songs in the public domain, familiar Christmas carols.

The story is still set in 1843, but the only character who stays in that time period is Scrooge, played by Wendy Weant, another twist on the classic. The other characters make modern references, and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future are based on modern movie characters.

Marley is also played by a woman, Taylor Szakal. “They’re using the same pronouns” as in the book, Moore said.

“It all works in the end; it made sense,” he added.

His friend from Nashville, David Weinstein, created modern arrangements of the familiar Christmas songs.

Bradley Moore, Piedmont Players Executive Director, and Laurie Klaus, who is the music director for Moore’s new version of ‘A Christmas Carol.’

Exciting music opportunity

Laurie Klaus, music director, is thrilled, though rehearsals have just started. “It’s so much fun and I’m so excited to be a part of building a brand-new musical. It’s the second time I’ve been able to be a part of a new musical.” This is the third show she’s done with Moore. “I love working with him. I love his writing and it’s fun!”

Moore said he has maintained the heart of the story. “That was important to me. I wanted it to have all the holiday feels.”

At the first read through with the cast, Moore said there were lots of laughs. “One cast member said they never loved the story of ‘A Christmas Carol’ until this version.”

But, he pointed out, ‘A Christmas Carol” is really a “horror story. People lean to the dramatic, I wanted to lean into the comedy with horror elements, to make a musical comedy horror version of the musical.”

Moore doesn’t have a favorite version of the familiar story, “but I do love when people love it and reinvent it in different ways.”

Moore was in the version created for Kelsey Grammar. He loves Bill Murray in “Scrooged” and the musical version of “Scrooged” and the Muppets version. “I’m a big Christmas person anyway.”

See a brand new, familiar, and fun production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Piedmont Players.

Great songs with a new take

Moore said Klaus has been “wonderful as we do new arrangements.”

The choreographer, Dallas McKinney, a North Carolina native, has done lots of theater, in Statesville and at Carowinds. Moore met Weinstein in Nashville and they worked on several shows together.

Klaus loves Weinstein’s new song. She sang it for the cast on the first night of rehearsal.

“It’s a combination of interesting and exciting and thrilling and enlightening to see a new song to go from lyrics to a basic melody with just the piano line, knowing the idea of the vision for a piece to making sample tracks.

“The process of watching a brand-new musical getting formed is fascinating. I’m so passionate about music, … getting to watch it develop and grow fully is different. I’m in on the ground floor, earlier, with the seed to be part of building it.”.

Audiences will love the new song, she said.  “They’ll’ walk out singing it.”

The new version of “A Christmas Carol” also has a reworking of “The 12 Days of Christmas,” which Klaus describes as a layered version with choreography, “a party song.”

Weant has a proven voice, and Klaus said Szalaki, who was in “Legally Blonde,” is exceptional.

Moore said the jokes are for all ages, as is the cast. Tiny Tim is a girl, June Tilley, who is 6.

The cast of Piedmont Players’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ learns some of the newly arranged songs, with Music Director Laurie Klaus on the piano.

Want to sing along?

The set will be simple, using two turntables that will rotate for different scenes. The city of London will be a backdrop; Scrooge’s bed will be vertical; fog and snow can be expected.

“I think that ‘A Christmas Carol’ has become such an institution in our world that I hope anybody who feels a little bit of Christmas spirit can walk in and experience this in a brand new way with a warm feeling in their heart.”

Performances will be Dec. 1-18, Thursdays-Sundays; 7:30 Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays; 2:30 p.m. on Sundays.

There will be two special performances: Opening night is pay what you can; Dec. 1 will be a singalong performance. Tickets will be only $10 for that night. Moore said it will be a good night for families.

For tickets and more information, go to https://piedmontplayers.com/show/christmas-carol/ or visit Piedmont Players Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/piedmontplayerstheatre

So much more fun coming up

The Polar Express arrives at the N.C. Transportation Museum on Nov. 11. Take the exciting journey to Christmas that day or Nov. 12, Nov. 18-20, Nov. 25-27, Dec. 2-4, 8-11, and 13-23. The museum is at 1 Samuel Spencer Drive, off North Salisbury Avenue in Spencer. For answers to all your questions, go to https://www.nctransportationmuseum.org/polar-express-faq/. Yes, you can wear your pajamas and bring your book to follow along. Everyone should wear closed-toe shoes with non-slick soles. Hot cocoa and a cookie are served, and children will get a silver sleigh bell and a golden ticket. 

The Polar Express chugs into the N.C. Transportation Museum in Spencer on Nov. 11.

“Godspell” — Lee St theatre, Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 2-17, 7:30 p.m. “Godspell” was the first musical theatre offering from Grammy and Academy Award winner Stephen Schwartz (‘Wicked,’ ‘Pippin,’ ‘Children of Eden’); and it took the world by storm. Led by the international hit, “Day by Day,” “Godspell” features many beloved songs, including “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord,” “All for the Best,” “All Good Gifts,” “Turn Back, O Man” and “By My Side.”

A small group of people help Jesus Christ tell parables using games, storytelling, and comic timing. Moving into the Last Supper and the Crucifixion, Jesus’ messages of kindness, tolerance and love come vibrantly to life. For more information and tickets, go to https://leestreet.org/season-15/godspell/.

Waterworks Visual Arts Center (https://www.waterworks.org) 123 E. Liberty St., downtown Salisbury — Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice, for toddlers 18 months to 3 years. Saturday, Nov. 12, 10-11 a.m. One adult must accompany each child. $40 for non-members, $25 for members. Enjoy the colors and smells of fall while creating art. Young artists and their grownup will enjoy hands-on art experiences with autumn sensory activities. Children will paint with pumpkin spice scented puffy paint and create a delicious pumpkin masterpiece.

Make a Winter Solstice Lantern at Waterworks Visual Arts Center on Nov. 12.

Waterworks Visual Arts Center will offer a class on making glass ornaments on Dec. 3.

Winter Solstice Lanterns, Nov. 12, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $45/$30 for members, one adult and one child. Winter Solstice has been celebrated for thousands of years on the shortest day and longest night of the year. It is a time to celebrate and invite the light back into our lives. Families are invited to design winter solstice lanterns and participate in a festive parade at the Bell Green Park, Wednesday, December 21.

Holiday Family Fun: Glass Ornaments, Dec. 3, 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. $45/$30 for members. Design your own holiday ornament. In this festive family workshop children and parents or guardians will create glass ornaments. Starting with basic safety and glass knowledge, students will learn how to cut glass and arrange the glass pieces, along with other simple techniques to design their ornaments. Participants may design ornaments for their Christmas tree or as decoration for other special winter family traditions.

Go to https://www.waterworks.org/make-youth-and-family-workshops to register for these workshops.

Memory Assemblages: The Practical Alchemy of Organizing Chaos into Art. Dec. 15, 6-8:30 p.m. $75/$60 for members. Adults 21+ only. All kinds of mementos hide in the junk drawer or in closets and attics. Rocks, shells, or jewelry will transform a picture frame, a lamp, a sconce, or your support of choice. Participants will use basic assemblage principles to create a unique piece of sentimental art for your home or as a gift that keeps giving. Enjoy a glass of wine and nibbles while creating. Visit https://www.waterworks.org/shop-classes/p/memory-assemblages to register.

Rockwell Arts, Crafts & Gift Show — Nov. 19, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., American Legion, 8580 Highway 52, Rockwell. Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100066928453402.

Piedmont Dance Theatre — 20th anniversary of “The Nutcracker.” PDT’s spectacular production has a cast of over 100 dancers and children in lavish costumes, and Tchaikovsky’s beloved, instantly recognizable score played by a live orchestra. Performances featuring the Salisbury Symphony will be Dec. 17, 6:30 p.m. and Dec. 18 at 2:30 p.m. at Keppel Auditorium, Catawba College. Performances will also be held in Mooresville. For more information and to reserve tickets, visit https://piedmontdancetheatre.com/upcoming-performances.

Salisbury Symphony — “The Wonders of Weather,” a free community concert at Varick Auditorium, Livingstone College, 701 W. Monroe St., Nov. 20, 4 p.m. The beauty and wonder of calm or stormy, hot or cold, and precipitous or clear weather will be explored as they have been depicted in music. The concert, narrated by David Whisenant, WBTV Salisbury, will feature chorus members from local middle schools in addition to high school side-by-side players and the Salisbury Symphony Youth Orchestra. https://salisburysymphony.org/shows/the-wonders-of-weather/

Serenade Brass, Dec. 9, 7:30 p.m. Omwake-Dearborn Chapel, Catawba College, 230 Faculty-Staff Circle. Join the brass players of the Salisbury Symphony for an evening of holiday music. The new serenade series features small ensembles from the orchestra and is intended to showcase musicians in a new and exciting way. General Admission tickets are $15 for adults, $5 for those under 18. Flex passes can be used. For more information, go to https://salisburysymphony.org/shows/serenade-brass/

Youth Orchestra Winter Concert, free, First Baptist Church of Salisbury, 223 N. Fulton St., Dec. 10, 6 p.m.  https://salisburysymphony.org/shows/ssyo-winter-concert/

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About The Author

Deirdre Parker Smith

I grew up in the theater; my father was a set designer and my mother was an actress. My most magical memories are from the days when we worked on stage and backstage together. My father, James “Parkie” Parker was a well-respected member of the theatre arts department at Catawba College for 33 years. Though I was born in New York City, and lived for a time in Washington, D.C., I graduated from Salisbury High School and Wake Forest University and was a writer and editor at the Salisbury Post for 35 years. Watching talented people do their thing is a great joy — acting, singing, playing an instrument, painting, drawing, writing. I’ve been lucky to meet many awesome creative people over the years. Art, in all its forms, heals people, makes connections and gives us a deep joy.