This will be the 8th year that I’ve helped create, develop and perform in Touchstone Theatre’s annual Christmas City Follies (opens December 5th). Because we create original material each and every year we start early. Earlier than most. Earlier than normal.
On Monday we will enter the rehearsal room and begin throwing ideas around — beloved characters that “have” to be in the show require all new adventures. New characters have to be developed. Situations, sketches, songs, themes, sayings, memories, “wouldn’t it be funny if…” all get bandied about.
That first rehearsal everything is hilarious. Then the serious work sets in. And you realize that the trick-or-treaters are at your door and you are humming “Oh There’s No Place Like Home for the Holidays” and they are looking at you oddly.
Being in a Christmasy frame of mind for more than two whole months is both exhilarating and exhausting. There are times when (horrors of horrors) you actually get tired of thinking Christmas kind of thoughts. When you go to the store you hear some new jingly jingle that sounds remarkably like something you are writing yourself and want to scream.
It’s a bit like Ground-hogs Day, the movie. Every other day you wake up and head into the rehearsal room. Outside the leaves are falling. Outside it’s early November. Inside it’s holiday fun and festivities — trying to create material that is fun, funny, poignant, meaningful and artful all at the same time.
After awhile it all stops being funny at all because you’ve heard it so many times.
But then opening night rolls around and you are sharing material with an audience for the very first time and they laugh — they actually laugh. And there’s a moment when you notice that the audience has gone strangely silent during a scene and then they let out a large sigh of grateful recognition of a truth being told. And you sing a song and get tingles because there is something magical happening right then, right there.
It is holiday magic all over again. For me, it is the magic of theater – no matter the season.