What a treat it was to see A Christmas Carol produced by Arts-Express. It is the third year that Arts Express has presented this musical play at the Berger Performing Arts Center.
The Berger is on the campus for the School for the Deaf and Blind, on the westside. It is a wonderful community theater, with an orchestra pit and well designed acoustics. It is available for rent. We have enjoyed many concerts and plays here over the years. Jim and I had purchased tickets to this event last year but were unable to attend, so this year was especially rewarding for us.
For the musical, we chose the matinee on Saturday. There will be another matinee next Sunday. The courtyard in front is setup like the streets of London in the 19th Century. Vendors ply their wares. There were carolers greeting guests as they arrive as well as the Executive Director.
The streets are open two hours before each event. Looking at the schedule of events, evenings are full of events to enjoy with times of activities so you can plan your arrival time.
We chose to arrive early to experience the full Monty and grab a bratwurst before the preshow event and have access to early seating although it looks like every seat is a good one.
At the preshow event, you will meet Charles Dickens who will orient you to life on the streets of London in the mid 1800's.
For a little worldly perspective, It is interesting to note that Dickens died in 1870 when Tucson was a dusty little town of around 3000 residents, who prospered despite being in the middle of a war with the Apaches. The army was based where Armory Park is today. Leopoldo Carrillo owned a home on Calle Real, where the Sosa-Carrillo-Fremont house is today.
You can learn more about Tucson in the 1870's by taking our History and Libation Tour offered once a month.
There is a short intermission after the preshow while the orchestra, yes orchestra, warms up and the rest of the audience is ushered in. Head out to the lobby and purchase a Mystery Gift for $25, which contains tickets to shows, dinners, etc. all of them worth at least $25 and possibly up to $500, I was told.
Then the magic begins. Charles Dickens', A Christmas Carol unfolds with story and song, and some quasi opera at times. Children are an integral part of the play. And they are very good at what they do. There is even a baby taking part, though she may have slept through most of it.
My favorite character, aside from a wonderful performance by Ebenezzer Scrooge, was the Ghost of Christmas Present. Many others were wonderful too like Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig, just not a prevalent. I believe we even had more than one opera singer in the cast, besides Mrs. Fezziwig.
Arts Express is a top notch community production company with the overall feeling of a folksy small town but having the resources of a large city. We thoroughly recommend seeing A Christmas Carol. Be sure to read the biographies for the cast. They will give you a feel for the whole event, like you know these people.
One of the most charming moments was at the end when it began to snow. Snow came wafting from the rafters down on the front row seat just in front of us. The woman in the wheelchair was literally covered in "Snow". As we departed the auditorium, a red-headed boy came up to the woman and said, "Gotcha Grandma!" And I had thought it was a coincidence of luck.
You can buy inexpensive tickets for A Christmas Carol, December 14-16 online today or pay more at the door if there is room. It was truly a wonderful show and we look forward to the springtime production, The Secret Garden.
Arts Express, you have gained some new fans from Southern Arizona Guide. Thank you.