Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A Christmas Carol - meet one of the producers, Russell Wyland


How did you get involved with the show?

I have been involved in some way with every production of The Christmas Carol done by LTA…about fifteen years or so, I guess.  I co-produced one of the first productions (with the late Suzanne Diffley), but I have also served as costume designer, set designer, set builder, and set decorator.  In every year, I have also served as the rigger.  In the early years, my specialty was designing and decorating Scrooge’s bed.  I would come to LTA early in the morning everything Thanksgiving and create an elaborate Victorian bed.  It always put me in the holiday spirit. Several times, the bed was used primarily by Mike Baker as Scrooge, and I loved working with him to design a bed that would help him bring Scrooge to life. Over the years, Mike and I talked about directing and producing together.  When he expressed an interest this year, I was eager to jump in.  I consider myself very lucky that Lloyd has agreed to be my partner.  He has the same warm feeling about this show that I do.     

What are some of the challenges in working on this show?

People tend to think of The Christmas Carol as an easy show because LTA does it every year.  But in many respects, the show actually become harder each year, as we try to make new for the audience.  Mike and I sat down the other night and tried to list the number of ways that Marley and the other spirits have made their entrances over the year.  Just when you think you have exhausted every possible entrance, a new one comes to you.  That’s the excitement for me.  Away from the theater, I am a Victorianist.  That is, I study and write about 19th-century England.  Doing The Christmas Carol means I am always thinking about how to make it more authentic.  Allowing the production to compromise authenticity to keep the story fresh is also a challenge.    

What do you hope the audience takes away from the show?

As they watch, I want audience members to be fully drawn in to the 19th century for just a second or two.  I want them to have that moment where they suddenly forget that they are sitting in a theater in Alexandria and, instead, find themselves in the world of Scrooge with all of its hardship, sincerity, cruelty, and innocent happiness. As they leave the theater, I want the audience to feel compelled to talk about what they’ve seen. Hopefully, as Christmas approaches, they will then reflect on the show over and over again, thinking about how Christmas has changed and how it remains the same. 

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