Tis the Season!

Hello Readers!!

Well you know what time it is! Tis the season for our 33rd annual production of A Christmas Carol! We have been hearing lots of carols these last couple of weeks. It is already feeling a little like the holidays around here! Speaking of holidays another one is coming quickly! Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so in leu of the holidays fast approach here is a recipes that hopefully we can all try this year!

 

 

Beet-Pickled Deviled Eggs

Yield – Makes 24               Active Time – 40 min.                   Total Time – 50 min, plus pickling time

beet deviled eggsThese vibrant, savory, and slightly spicy deviled eggs are perfect for parties, but easy enough to make as a snack, too.

ingredients

  • 1 cup apple cider vinegar, plus 3 tablespoons, divided
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, plus a pinch, divided
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt, plus a pinch, divided
  • 1 small red beet, peeled and halved
  • 12 hard-boiled eggs, peeled
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, tarragon, chives, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 hot chiles, thinly sliced

preparation

In a medium pot, mix 1 cup apple cider vinegar, 1 tablespoon sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, and 3 cups water. Add the beet and bring to a boil, then remove from heat and let cool slightly. Pour into a large heat-safe jar or bowl (including beet). Add eggs, stir, and refrigerate at least 3 hours (stirring occasionally) or overnight for a darker shade of pink.

Remove eggs from liquid. Halve eggs (reserving the whites) and gently transfer the yolks to a bowl. Add 1 tablespoon vinegar, mayonnaise, herbs, and anchovy paste to the yolks. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, then spoon or pipe the filling into the egg whites.

Place the chiles, remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, the remaining pinch each of sugar and salt in a bowl and let stand 15 minutes. Drain the chiles, then sprinkle over the deviled eggs. Sprinkle with additional herbs, if desired. Serve.

Stay tuned for another holiday recipe!

Casey S. Hibbert©

 

Hello Dedicated Readers!

First off thank you for being patient and waiting for this post to come. A while ago here at the theatre we had a video the Christmas Carol set being constructed. As many of you know we do A Christmas Carol every year and it is a family favorite! We look forward to this show every season and so do the patrons. If you have not seen it yet, now is the time to start a family tradition! This is a classic story and everyone knows it. Anyway…this year I really wanted to bring back that video, so over the last week I have been putting together a timelapse video of the set being constructed. It took a while to get it edited and to the finished product. We are so happy with this video we are planning on doing them for every show for the rest of this season and next. So keep your eyes peeled for more videos to come! So come see A Christmas Carol here at MBT running Nov 16 – Dec 23 for ticket information call our box office at 248.370.3300! And without further ado….I give to you A Christmas Carol construction in 1:30!

Turn on your speakers and listen to our carollers! Also don’t be afraid to watch in full screen!

Stay tuned…

Casey S. Hibbert©

Another Year…

Ho-Ho-Hollo Readers!

It has officially been a few weeks since I have posted anything! So, here is another year almost come to a close. Can you believe it, Christmas is just around the corner! It is weird to think that 2012 is almost here. So what is your New Years Resolution? Mine, I am going to go to the gym more often and get back into shape!

So for this week’s blog I have decided that I am going to share with you a little about the different Christmas traditions around the world. I don’t think we have time for everywhere around the world, so I am going to choose about 2 or 3 different countries.

Our first country is China. For the small number of Christians in China, Christmas is called Sheng Dan Jieh, which means Holy Birth Festival. People decorate their home with poster, bright paper chains, and evergreens. They put up the “tree of light,” or the Christmas Tree, they decorate it with flower, lanterns, and red paper chains that symbolize happiness.

Many Chinese people enjoy the fun and color of the Christmas season. The bigger cities in China are gaily decorated and many shops sell plastic trees and Christmas decorations. Believe it or not, Santa Claus is a popular good-luck figure, he is also called Lan Khoong-Khoong, “Nice Old Father.” There are many fireworks, jugglers (Yay!) and Acrobats that entertain. Also at this time of year, the people of Hong Kong celebrate Ta Chiu, a festival of peace and renewal, by making offerings to saints and reading the names of everyone who live in the area.

On Christmas Eve, Christian children in China hang up their stockings that are specially mad so Christmas Old Men or “Dun Che Lao Ren,” can fill them with wonderful gifts.

Our next visit takes us to Ethiopia, which is the one of the oldest nations in Africa. Because Ethiopians still follow the ancient Julian calendar they celebrate Christmas on January 7. This is called Ganna.

On “Ganna Eve,” people fast all day. On Ganna at dawn, most Ethiopians don a traditional shamma, a thin, white cotton wrap with brightly colored stripes across the ends. It is basically worn like a toga. Then they head to the early mass which starts at 4am.

The foods during the Ganna season include wat, a thick, spicy stew of meat, vegetables, and sometimes eggs as well. The wat is served on a injera, which is a flat sourdough bread.

Twelve day after Ganna, on January 19, Ethiopians begin the three-day celebration call Timkat, which commemorates the baptism of Christ. Ganna and Timkat are not occasions for giving gifts in Ethiopia. If a child receives any gift at all, it is usually a small gift of clothing. Religious observances, feasting, and games are the focus of the season.

Most other countries celebrate the Christmas we know. With presents and lots of good food. If you would like to read a little bit more about different traditions around the world please visit http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/christmas-traditions-around-the-world-ga.htm. So there you have it! What is the best and/or worst Christmas present you ever received? I have always received really great Christmas presents so I can’t just pick one.

Stay tuned…

Casey S. Hibbert© – Guest Blogger

Up and Running!

Well A Christmas Carol is up and running! We had our first show on November 19th to a sold out audience! And again we had another sold out show on Nov 20th! If it keeps up like this, it will be a fantastic season for A Christmas Carol. To top it all off Thanksgiving is just 4 days away! This is one of my favorite times of the season because two of the biggest food days are so close to one another. I love the smell of turkey baking in the oven. I remember the days when we would go to my grandmother’s house for Thanksgiving, we would walk in the door and you could just smell the turkey with cranberry sauce, the smell of stuffing and sweet potatoes it was like walking into wall of food. It was the best! What is your favorite part about Thanksgiving and/or Christmas?

Also don’t forget to buy your tickets to A Christmas Carol it is running now until Dec. 23rd. Don’t miss out and have a Happy Turkey Day! Gobble Gobble!

Casey S. Hibbert© – Guest Blogger

Celebrating 30 Years of A Christmas Carol!

Hello Readers!

Wow! It is almost Thanksgiving, and soon it will be Christmas! Where did the time go? I think it is crazy that every time I walk into Meijer or Walmart, or pretty much any other store for that matter, they have had Christmas things on the shelves since before Halloween. Anyway here we are at yet another Christmas Carol. The season has come upon us, the leaves are falling, the smell of frost in the air and snow soon to fall. Well this is the 30th year of our popular show. Families come from all over Michigan to see this show, it is family fun for everyone! I have with me a cast list from the very first production of this famous tale. I am going to share that with you. See how many people you remember.

Who do you remember as the very first miser? If you guessed Booth Colman you are correct!
Bob Cratchit was played by Thom Haneline
Fred was played by Andrew Barnicle
First Charity Man was played by Phillip Locker
Second Charity Man was played by Henson Keys
Jacob Marley was played by Wil Love
Spirit of Christmas Past was played by Grace Aiello
Scrooge as a Boy was played by Raphael Aiello
Fan was played by Mary Bruin
Fezziwig was played by  Phillip Locker
Mrs. Fezziwig was played by Jane MacIver
Scrooge as a Young Man was played by Terrence Sherman
Belle was played by Sara Morrison
Belle’s Husband was played by Carl Schurr
Spirit of Christmas Present was played by Graham Pollock
Mrs Cratchit was played by  Jane MacIver
Peter Cratchit was played by Eric Bruggemann
Martha Cratchit was played by Grace Aiello
Tiny Tim was played by Kevin Skiles
Belinda Cratchit was played by Mary Bruin
Matthew Cratchit was played by Raphael Aiello
Fred’s Wife was played by Sara Morrison
Spirit of Christmas Future was played by Carl Schurr
Old Joe was played by Henson Keys
Char Woman was played by Sara Morrison
Laundress was played by Grace Aiello
Undertaker was played by Phillip Locker
Turkey Boy was played by Joshua Dawson
Londoners were Judi Ammar-Parker, George Bufford, J. Luke Huber, Sarah Jayne Huber, Jane Shaffmaster, Jan Semelroth Elliott, Rebecca Watts.

The Director was Carl Schurr
Set Designer was Barry Griffith
Lighting Designer was and is currently Reid G. Johnson
Costumes Designed by Mary Lynn Crum
Musical Direction by Terrence Sherman
Stage Managers were (and one of them still is) Thomas Spence & Terry W. Carpenter.

So there you have it. The cast and crew of the 1982 production of A Christmas Carol. How many people do you remember? Were you in the cast that year? Please tell us your stories of the times you had backstage. On behalf of MBT I would like to thank the first cast and crew for making this production a holiday favorite! Stay tuned…

Casey S. Hibbert© – Guest Blogger



A Cup of Cheer with Judy Dery of A Christmas Carol

Today Judy Dery joined me for A Cup of Cheer.  She is playing Mrs. Fezziwig and other roles in A Christmas Carol. Judy was in the cast the first year that I joined the A Christmas Carol family.  She has a wonderful smile and such a warm heart that it draws you in.  I am so pleased that she continues to share the holidays with us.  Please come see her in the show… she is truly something special!

A Christmas Carol is open to the public now!!!  Get tickets by calling the box office at 248-377-3300 and remember to check our website at www.mbtheatre.com for more information!

~Travis W. Walter, Artistic Director

 

Judy Dery portrays Mrs. Fezziwig and others in A Christmas Carol

 

A Cup of Cheer with Judy Dery

 

How many years have you been in A Christmas Carol?

This is my 10th year.  I can’t think of a better way to celebrate Christmas!  I’ve had 5 Mr. Fezziwigs (4 “1 or 2-nighters” with understudies), and 8 Fezziwig daughters.  I have so enjoyed watching the young actors grow up in the cast.  I’d love to see one of them who “graduated” at 14 (per our agreement with Actors’ Equity) come back at 18 and be a caroler.

What is your favorite part of the holiday season?

The lights.  I go a little crazy at my house – something different in front every year.  I start them on Thanksgiving and keep them up till January 6 for Epiphany/Twelfth Night.  I like to drive through neighborhoods looking at what others do.  They just make me feel good.

What is your favorite part of the story A Christmas Carol?

The happy ending.  “God bless us, every one.”

There are many school matinees for A Christmas Carol, what is fun/special about performing for children?

Their reactions are so honest.  Many of them are happy to be coming to see the show.  Some of them are just happy to be out of school for the morning.

Bob Cratchit asks Scrooge for “one more piece of coal” do you prefer your house to be “warm as toast”, “just right”, or “cold enough to hang meat”?

“Just right” for me; which might be “warm as toast” to someone else.

Scrooge promises to find Peter Cratchit a job and Martha almost misses Christmas dinner because she has to work … what kind of jobs did you have when you were young like Peter and Martha?

Mostly I babysat.  Living in a neighborhood where there was an elementary school and a public park with a swimming pool, there were lots of children.

Favorite Christmas Drink.. Egg Nog or Wassail?

Wassail.  I have a great recipe.

Scrooge loves money… When you get a present, do you prefer money or a gift?

I like a gift – preferably something small, personal and inexpensive.

Scrooge is visited by two charity men early in the show… have you done any charity work or are there charity organizations that you support?

Let’s see…  I’ve answered phones at, and donated to, public television.  I was chair of our local fund-raising group, Equity & Friends Fight AIDS.  And I’m a member of the Meadow Brook Theatre Guild.

Scrooge is visited by four ghosts… do you believe in ghosts?

Yes.  (insert sly smile)

If you were visited by the spirit of Christmas past how would you welcome looking back on your life?

I’d love it!  Memory Lane is one of my favorite places to stroll.  I’ve been blessed.  There are so many times I’d like to recollect; and people.  I’d love to see my high-school drama and music teachers; my first audition for Terry Kilburn (I got the part!  Guys and Dolls – my first Equity contract.)…  And my grandmother.  I think I miss her most at Christmas.

Next project after A Christmas Carol?

Costuming at Detroit Repertory Theatre.  I’ve been doing costumes there for about eight years.

The Fezziwigs host the best parties. Any memorable moments from holiday parties you’d like to share?

Oh, my!  I used to throw a Fezziwig-worthy party on the Sunday after New Year’s – sorta the last party of the holiday season.  Did it for years.  Took the tradition with me when I moved to California (1978-83).  They went away when I started getting acting work around the holidays, sometimes, even, out of town.

The spread at the Fezziwig’s party is unbelievable…. what is your favorite holiday food?

Mom’s kielbasa and chrzan (horseradish with beets) served with her fried onions and potatoes and two kinds of kapusta.

Other favorite Charles Dickens novels?

A Tale of Two Cities.  “’Tis a far, far better thing I do….”

Why do you think so many families come to see this show year after year?

Tradition.  Ours is so faithful to the novel in Charles Nolte’s script and the set and costume designs.  I like to tell people our show looks like a Victorian pop-up book.

What is your favorite holiday?

Oh…   Christmas!

Baking is huge during the holidays, do you bake? if so what do you like to bake?

I don’t.  But I enjoy what others bake.

What message do you hope the audience takes with them about A Christmas Carol?

Kindness wins.  We need more kindness in the world.

Finish this sentence: “My favorite gift that I ever received during the holiday season was_________”

“… my first typewriter.  I was 11 and wanted a toy typewriter like the one my best friend had.  You turned a wheel to the desired letter, pressed down on it and the letter was printed on the paper in the roller.  Santa brought me a Remington Rand.  I cried happy tears.  I still have it.”

A Cup of Cheer with Vivian Ellsworth of A Christmas Carol

Today I am excited to share the Cup of Cheer I had with Vivian Ellsworth.  Vivian is a most gifted person and performer.  She has been a caroler for A Christmas Carol at Meadow Brook Theatre for many years, and this year she is the music director for the show.  Audiences will fall in love with her kind smile, warm heart and gracious personality.  Read her interview and then get thee to the box office to purchase tickets to the show.

Tickets for A Christmas Carol are on sale now.  Contact the box office at 248-377-3300 for tickets or find out more information by visiting our website at www.mbtheatre.com

~Travis W. Walter, Artistic Director

Vivian Ellsworth is this year's music director for A Christmas Carol

 

A Cup of Cheer with Vivian Ellsworth

 

How many years have you been in A Christmas Carol? This is my 4th year as a caroler here at Meadow Brook, but I’ve seen the show here every year since moving to Michigan 14 years ago.   I am a native Californian and have great memories of seeing A Christmas Carol with my family every year when I was growing up.  Over the years we saw it in San Francisco, Sacramento, and Los Angeles.  Now my parents live in Salt Lake City, UT, and they see it there every year.

 

What is your favorite part of the holiday season? Spending time with family, and, of course, SINGING!!  Even after singing the carols for 8 weeks I love Christmas carols.

 

What is your favorite part of the story A Christmas Carol? I love Scrooge’s transformation!  I love the idea that people can change and become better.  That’s an important part of the message of Christmas.

 

There are many school matinees for A Christmas Carol, what is fun/special about performing for children? I am a teacher, and I look forward to seeing many of my own students in the matinees each year.  I’m also a Mom, and it’s fun to see my children and their friends in the audience.

 

Bob Cratchit asks Scrooge for “one more piece of coal” do you prefer your house to be “warm as toast”, “just right”, or “cold enough to hang meat”? I prefer a cold house, but everyone else in my family likes it to be warm as toast, so there are times when I almost envy Bob Cratchit.

 

Scrooge promises to find Peter Cratchit a job and Martha almost misses Christmas dinner because she has to work … what kind of jobs did you have when you were young like Peter and Martha? I am one of ten siblings and my Dad was a great believer in “character building experiences.”  I remember babysitting my younger brothers and sisters while I was growing up, we all did a lot of housework and yard work.  We had a one acre garden that we all had to weed, water, and harvest during the Summer and Fall.   I also started teaching flute and piano lessons when I was just 14 years old.

 

Favorite Christmas Drink.. Egg Nog or Wassail? Hot chocolate!

 

Scrooge loves money… When you get a present, do you prefer money or a gift? Does a gift card count as money?

 

Scrooge is visited by four ghosts… do you believe in ghosts? Well, I believe in angels, and I think Dickens’ ghosts are really angels.  I believe that we get help from the other side when we need it.

 

If you were visited by the spirit of Christmas past how would you welcome looking back on your life? I would definitely like to fast forward some parts, but I’d love to remember the happy times, and even the difficult times taught me something.

 

Next project after A Christmas Carol? I am presenting a paper on Arts and Language Integration in Secondary Music Education at a Conference in January!  I am passionate about music education and am enjoying working on my certification with the wonderful professors here at OU.  And, I’m working with an African Drumming Club at Eagle Creek Academy, where I teach K-8 Music.

 

The Fezziwigs host the best parties. Any memorable moments from holiday parties you’d like to share? My grandparents used to have wonderful Christmas parties.  My grandpa had a gorgeous genuine Santa Claus suit and he used to play Santa Claus at the parties.  In fact, I thought he was the real Santa Claus when I was little!

 

The spread at the Fezziwig’s party is unbelievable…. what is your favorite holiday food? Anything that my mother bakes . . . or my friend Amy’s English toffee.

 

Other favorite Charles Dickens novels? I love Great Expectations.  I wanted to name one of my sons “Pip” (but I think that Tanner and Ian are happy that I didn’t).

 

Why do you think so many families come to see this show year after year? The same reason that my parents took us every year . . . to hope that the message gets to them and that they can “keep Christmas well” every day of the year.

 

What is your favorite holiday? Thanksgiving!  I like taking time to be thankful for what we have and to be with family without a lot of commercialism.

 

Baking is huge during the holidays, do you bake? if so what do you like to bake? I only know how to bake one thing really well, parker house dinner rolls.   I have my grandmother’s recipe, and when I bake them I think of my mother and my grandmother.  Just the smell of the dough rising reminds me of them and takes me back to wonderful holiday celebrations with my family when I was a little girl.

 

What message do you hope the audience takes with them about A Christmas Carol? It doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are if you have family and friends, and if you “honour Christmas in your heart and try to keep it all the year.”

 

Finish this sentence: “My favorite gift that I ever received during the holiday season was_______”

…the year that my daughter, Lauren, was Martha Cratchit here at Meadow Brook.  I used to sneak backstage in between my scenes and watch her while she was on stage for her scenes.  I never got to watch her from the audience, but it was an incredible gift for me to watch her from the wings.  It was great to share this beautiful experience with my daughter.”

An Inside Look at A Christmas Carol, Part 6 (Mister Bah Humbug Himself)

Thomas D. Mahard is our guest blogger for our final installment of A Christmas Carol blogs.  After being in the show for quite some time… he celebrated his 1,000th performance of the show at the beginning of the run this year, but now as Ebenezer Scrooge.  He is doing a magnificent job portraying the unfeeling miser and if you haven’t seen him yet, you only have until Dec 20, 2009 to do so.  A giant THANKS to Tom and all of our guest bloggers for the inside info on this beloved holiday tradition.

~Travis Walter

Thomas D. Mahard as Ebenezer Scrooge

After only 24 years of acting in A Christmas Carol, I’m finally getting the chance to play a role I’ve wanted to play my entire career.  I’ve performed the role 4 times as an understudy, so I entered the rehearsal period with a solid working knowledge of the words and blocking, as well as having some ideas of things I wanted to try.  Terry Carpenter (our esteemed director) was very open to all my ideas, and we incorporated many of them.

Playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge requires a great deal of stamina especially when we start doing 9 and 10 show weeks.  Consequently, I used much of the rehearsal period like a workout session, trying never to coast and always trying to stay in the moment.  I knew that the harder I pushed myself in rehearsals, the easier it would be once I got on stage.

So many people think of Scrooge as a sort of cardboard cutout figure.  He is greedy and mean in the beginning, and generous and happy at the end. In order for the audience to connect with him, however, he must be real.  He must have redeeming qualities so that they will root for him in his fantastic journey towards redemption.  Although I revere the work of all the past Scrooges (and have shamelessly stolen all their best bits) it has been most important for me to make the part uniquely my own.  I had to take that cardboard image the audience has of Scrooge, and flesh him out with my own real emotions, my own humor, my own sense of pain and loss, and my own sense of joy.  Only if the audience can accept Scrooge, can associate with his pain and fears and longings, can they truly feel the joy and ecstasy of his redemption, and leave the theatre with that warm glow of the true meaning of Christmas.

~Thomas D. Mahard