Community Christmas Company
Monday 30 March 2020
Update from JAC Director, Daniel Austin:
“We thought we would reminisce today about ‘A Christmas Carol’ from last December! We had such a fantastic time adapting, rehearsing, producing and performing the show that we thought we would share with you one or two of our ideas. Dickens references just one carol in his 1843 novella: ‘God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen’ and as there are a number of other references to singing in the streets, we thought we would integrate other carols, pre-dating 1843 (so Dickens would have/could have known them!) Almost as if Dickens were to have been asked to adapt his own work into a musical! One of those carols we used was ‘The Wexford Carol’, which was one of my favourites because it allowed the company, the characters, during the Fezziwigs’ party to come together as one spirit and communicate something quite special about that time of the year. We know it is not yet Christmas but a certain spirit is needed during these curious times and we wanted to remind you of that spirit, regardless of your belief system! As we do not have a recording of Jenny McCarthy singing this carol from the show, we thought we would share with you this hauntingly beautiful interpretation by Alison Krauss. Enjoy!
Over the past four years, Jersey Arts Centre has presented four Community Christmas productions:
- A Christmas Carol, 2019
- The Wind in the Willows, 2018
- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 2017
- Arabian Nights, 2016
Planning and pre-production always begins in late spring with Graeme Humphries agreeing to the set design and lighting design and Nick Carver taking on board the costume design.
Bertrand Larmet and Veronique Martinez of Art’Comedia in L’Hermitage, Brittany, are invited at this time to be our Musical Directors and Vocal Coach, especially after their beautiful work on previous shows. And for the past three productions, Victoria Hermitage has choreographed some beautiful sequences for the shows, including memorable duck dances, a picnic duet, a Wassailing number and the Sir Roger de Coverley!
The month of October is spent rehearsing and creating Act I and the month of November is spent creating Act II. There are two evening rehearsals a week and a rehearsal all day on Sundays.
Here are our audience figures for the above shows:
- 3,079 for ‘A Christmas Carol’
- 3,052 for ‘The Wind in the Willows’
- 3,511 for ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’
- 1,012 for ‘Arabian Nights’
The feedback from audiences and families has been overwhelmingly positive, with the scripts, characters and stories entertaining all during the festive seasons.
Gill Kay, in her Jersey Evening Post review on 10 December 2018, was delighted by the festive offering for ‘The Wind in the Willows’:
“There was pooping all over the place at the Arts Centre on Friday night when a rather egregious toad and his pals took over the stage. And the audience loved it. From the very start… it was evident that something special was in store for the opening night’s audience… it’s a testament to the production, the acting and the direction that the audience was pretty much spellbound all night.”
And Rod McLoughlin, in his Jersey Evening Post review on 11 December 2019, enjoyed the commitment, energy and ideas of ‘A Christmas Carol’:
“…an extraordinary blend of theatrical styles… Part ensemble piece, part musical, part choral theatre, part poetic fantasy, it flows easily from one style of story-telling to another, ‘playing with words, voices, musical and action’, as the programme note puts it… some extraordinarily moving moments… Underpinning the narrative is a sequence of carols that reinforces not just the atmosphere but also the spiritual message of the piece… you could not ask for more expressive, yet unobtrusive musicians…”
Our sincerest thanks extend to the entire creative team and our extraordinary company of committed, concentrated and skilled actors, which drew from both our Junior Drama and youtheatre groups, and our adult actors.
Jersey Arts Centre’s Management Committee continue to support this initiative with enthusiasm and commitment to this area of our work.
Watch this Space! for the announcement of this year’s Christmas show!