From The Broadsheet Daily, December 9, 2010
An Updated ‘Christmas Carol’ Sets the Pace for Holiday Giving
Ebenezer Scrooge would be furious if he knew what the cast of the newly reimagined production of A Christmas Carol are up to: Not only did they assist in the community tree lighting at the South Street Seaport on November 26 (“Bah!”), and not only are they staging his whole sordid story at Pace University’s Schimmel Center for the Arts on December 8 through 12 (“Humbug!”), but — and here’s the part that would really make him want to hide Tiny Tim’s crutches — they are planning to raise money for charity after each performance.
The cast (including two BPC residents: Grace Diana Kirwin, in second grade at P.S. 89, and her sister Brooke Kelly Kirwin, in fifth) will mingle with the audience and collect contributions for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids. The production, mounted by Pace’s Department of Performing Arts, features original music, newly choreographed dance numbers, larger-than-life puppets, and a generous dose of Christmas spirit. One more thing about the show that Scrooge would hate: Tickets are affordably priced, at $12 for adults and $8 for students, seniors, and kids.
The curtain goes up Wednesday through Friday at 8:00 pm, on Saturday at 2:00 and 8:00 pm, and on Sunday at 1:00 and 7:00 pm. Tickets are available at the box office (One Spruce Street) before each performance, and can be reserved by e-mailing Theater@Pace.edu or calling 212-346-1954.
An adaptation by Grant Kretchik of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol” with puppets, dance and music is the talk of the town.
The production appeared TWICE during the week of December 8 in The New York Times – The Community Affairs Calendar and Seasonal Revels (Arts). It also got a “double play” on BroadwayWorld.com – “Pace University & The Dept of Performing Arts Presents A CHRISTMAS CAROL” and “Pace University Confronts the AIDS Crisis With BC/EFA.”
Time Out New York featured the actors/carolers/dancers participation in the South Street Seaport Tree Lighting event, as well as recommended the play in their separate Time Out New York KIDS edition. TheaterMania came out with the most comprehensive play information, naming every person in the cast/crew AND their role … along with featuring the show entirely in the lead paragraph of the article, “Kids Spotlight: Carol Channeling,” which was also picked up by USA Today among others.
Single mentions (many with photos) included the NY Daily News, Stamford Advocate, Greenwich Time, New York Social Diary, WNBC-TV, NY1, NYC.com, Shecky’s NYC Nightlife, The Broadsheet Daily, Downtown Alliance, DGuides, Tribeca Tribune, NYTheatre.com, Mommy Poppins, PARENTGUIDE News, A Child Grows in Brooklyn and PeaTot.
The Seaport Inn promoted Pace’s “A Christmas Carol” on their website, noting to tourists that the Schimmel Theater was ” Walking distance from our front door.”
Student actors were featured in their hometown newspapers: Niko Papastefanou (Scrooge) from Montgomery, NY near the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains was profiled in the Times-Herald Record; Chris Barba (Fred, Scrooge’s nephew) who hails from a seacoast town in Plymouth County, MA was interviewed by the Scituate Mariner; Chris Fayne (Bob Cratchit) from Egg Head Township in NJ was named a “person of the week” by Shore News Today; and Daniel Rings (Gentleman, Clerk and Caroler) was applauded by Michigan’s Midland Daily News in the article, “Midland Actor Takes Stage in New York.” The Times-Herald Record and Midland Daily News also ran the cast photo.
Grant Kretchik, who directed the adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” spoke about the production in interviews with the New York Observer’s supplement, The Educated Observer, as well as his own Hawley, PA, hometown newspaper, The News Eagle.
Additionally buzz was provided by the South Street Seaport’s full page ad promoting the message “Spend Your Holidays at the Seaport” and highlighting “Pace University’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ appearance at the Tree Lighting Spectacular on November 26. The ad appeared on the back page of AM New York, The Downtown Express and other local newspapers.
Chris Barba (pictured in top hat), a 2009 Scituate High School graduate, acted throughout high school and had other main roles before, but said he has never been a part of a production as big as this one. Barba is starring this week in Pace University’s “A Christmas Carol” as Fred, Scrooge’s optimistic nephew.
Barba explained that Fred continually tries to get Scrooge to see things in a better light then he is able to. And he said that no matter how much Scrooge rejects him, Fred keeps going back to form a relationship with Scrooge.
“Everyone knows the story of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and when I got the role I assumed I knew, but I realized that you can never really know too much,” said Barba. “You have to take to it seriously and get it right and do research and planning and be open to discovery as with any other role that you knew nothing about.”
“I was really heavily involved in acting program at Scituate High School,” Chris Barba said. “I was definitely a drama geek and was always reading plays and working hard all through high school.”
But Barba wasn’t so sure he wanted to pursue acting as a career until Maura Tighe, the drama director his freshman and sophomore year of high school, convinced him otherwise.
Barba said Tighe taught him about building a character.
“You think that performing is getting out on stage and saying lines in the most entertaining way possible, but I started to learn that when you create a character, you create a whole person, someone who may be similar to someone you know,” he said. “It’s something I learned more detail about in college, but she was the first person who planted that seed in my mind.”
Montgomery, NY native Niko Papastefanou is getting a big opportunity starting Dec. 8. He’s starring as Ebenezer Scrooge in the Pace University adaptation of “A Christmas Carol.” This version features music, dance and puppets. The performances are at the Schimmel Theater at Pace, which is where James Lipton hosts episodes of “Inside the Actors Studio.” Performances run through Dec. 12.
Niko Papastefanou’s hometown newspaper – The Times Herald–Record, serving New York’s Hudson Valley and the Catskills – took note of his leading role as Scrooge in Pace’s production of “A Christmas Carol.” A cast photo was also included in the story – http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20101130/COMM/11300311
No “Humbug” This Season.
Just like Scrooge decided to give money to the less fortunate after his eye opening journey with the three ghosts, “A Christmas Carol” Director Grant Kretchik along with his cast of over 40 will fundraise after each of their eight shows and donate the money to Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights AIDS.
BC/ EFA is an organization that has raised over $195 million dollars since 1988 to provide people living with AIDS, as well as other critical illnesses, necessary services and care.
“This was the first organization that was even mentioned as an option for our fundraising,” says Tommy McKiernan, a cast member. “It’s a charity that was born right out of the theater community and benefits a cause that is a major health problem not only in the United States, but all around the world. It was a no brainer.”
Bethany Xan Jeffery, who plays Ebenezer Scrooge’s diligent housekeeper -Mrs. Dilber in “A Christmas Carol,” wrote the article on the inspiration behind Pace confronting the AIDS crisis that got picked up by BroadwayWorld –broadwayworld.com/article/Pace_University_Confronts_the_AIDS_Crisis_With_BCEFA_20101130#ixzz16nw5A4YB
“HIV/ AIDS is a rapidly growing disease that is plaguing the world and if we don’t help the government by raising money to fund the research ourselves, then who knows when it will cease consuming millions of lives. You can help by donating to Broadway Cares/ Equity Fights Aids at www.broadwaycares.org or any of the HIV/ AIDS charity organizations. All it took was one person to contact BC/ EFA from Pace University to organize a major effort against the AIDS crisis. It could be you.”
Now that your Thanksgiving meal has been digested and discarded, let the holidays begin in earnest. The Seaport Chorus Tree Lighting (South Street Seaport, Pier 17, Fulton St at Water St; 212-732-7678, southstreetseaport.com; 6pm; free) is the first of the season, so head down to the cobbled streets and see the Big Apple Chorus break out holiday tunes. Jill Martin is the host for the evening and introduces excerpts from A Christmas Carol, performed by the Pace University Department of Performing Arts, and singer Darlene Love who stirs up some cheer with “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home).”
The Seaport Chorus Tree Lighting – featuring excerpts from “A Christmas Carol” performed by Pace’s Department of Performing Arts – was named a “Your perfect Friday, November 26” selection by the editors of Time Out New York – http://newyork.timeout.com/things-to-do/this-week-in-new-york/282663/your-perfect-friday-november-26#ixzz16iPZFXs1
If you missed the live performance, don’t despair. These YouTube videos are the next best thing to being there!
The EDUCATED Observer takes a closer look at how Grant Kretchik, head of Pace’s BFA Acting Program, is bringing his passions into the classroom – and getting results.
Kretchik reminds his students that acting is not merely a “degree or career, it’s a lifestyle.”
Kretchik believes that his position makes him responsible for encouraging his students to contribute to their communities. To this end, he makes every effort to bridge the gap between the classroom and workplace and also looks into opportunities for outreach programs through partnerships with organizations such as Broadway Green Alliance – – www.scribd.com/doc/41935757/The-Educated-Observer-Winter-2010
The most famous holiday story ever told is alive at Pace University, filled with choreography by Rhonda Miller, music by Scott O’Brien and many surprises. The production is as vibrant as it is haunting in this new adaptation by Grant Kretchik. Adults and children alike are sure to find something fresh in this inventive and festive holiday production, on top of being an affordable way to celebrate the holiday season in New York City.
Pace University and the Department of Performing Arts take you on a fantastical journey with the timeless holiday classic A Christmas Carol, based on the novel by Charles Dickens.
Enter the world of Ebenezer Scrooge as he is confronted by larger than life puppets who teach him the value of the holiday spirit and the importance of family and kindness to others – http://t.co/w8YPts7
December 8-12, 2010
Performance Schedule: Wednesday-Saturday at 8PM; Saturday at 2:00PM; Sunday at 1:00PM and 7:00PM
Location: Schimmel Center for the Arts at Pace University, New York City Campus east of City Hall in Lower Manhattan (entrance on Spruce Street)
Tickets: Students/Seniors $8 Adults $12, General Admission Seating
Reservations: email firstname.lastname@example.org
Drama is a tough field, Kretchik affirmed, and noted that the public perception is that acting is glamorous. In truth, drama is a lot of work; it is a job, yet for him, it is a vocation that he loves.
Professor Grant Kretchik’s hometown newspaper, The News Eagle, pays tribute to his performing arts career – http://www.neagle.com/highlight/x1696239082/Hawley-son-on-cast-of-When-Harry-Tries-to-Marry
Highlights include a supporting role in the romantic comedy, When Harry Tries to Marry, which was filmed on Pace’s NYC campus in Lower Manhattan (and Kutch, India). The film had its world premiere on October 22nd at the Austin Film Festival.
Kretchik is also currently directing a new adaptation of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol (December 8 – 12, Pace’s Schimmel Theater), and assisting with the first national tour of Next to Normal, a Pulitzer-prize winning Broadway production.