Civic Theatre gets in the Christmas spirit with ‘Holiday Lights’

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Civic Theatre is doing its part to provide some holiday cheer amid trying pandemic times with a Christmas variety show.

“It’s holiday music and dance, one song after the other, with short interview pieces.” said Civic Theatre Executive Artistic Director Michael Lasley, who is directing the show. “We’ll have a bigger production with people moving around a little more to begin with, then there will be a solo, followed by a duet and a trio of dancers.”

“Holiday Lights” is set for 7 p.m. Dec. 12 on a livestream from The Tarkington at the Center for the Performing Arts in Carmel. The show, which will run between 75 and 90 minutes, will then be available for on demand from Dec. 13 to Jan. 1, 2021.

The performance is a fundraiser for Civic Theatre, whose productions were shut down in mid-March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“For us, it’s a lot about keeping contact with our audience,” Lasley said. “We’re in this situation where we can really perform for people and bring them in. You want to do your best to maintain that connection with your audience, so when this is over, it feels like we were never really gone.”

Anne Beck is the choreography director and Brent Marty is the musical director.

Lasley said the presentation in some respects is a bit like the “Ghost Light Cabaret,” an October fundraising performance, but is a little different in others.

“There will be more songs, more music, less of transitional stuff in between,” Lasley said. “There is a little pre-recorded video.”

Lasley said there will be some different treatments of holiday favorites.

“There are some jazzy treatments, but we don’t get too far away from the standard music people are used to. When it comes to holiday music, people like what they like,” Lasley said. “If you mess with things too much, it doesn’t go over well. We’re best served to be that stable experience for them, the things that warm their hearts and the things they look forward to during the holidays and are real touchstones for them.”

There will be additional musicians for the performance.

“Before, we only had piano, bass and drums,” Lasley said. “We’re going have a guitar and a woodwind player. We’re going to have more choreography. It was originally conceived as both streaming and live with an audience. If we did it live with an audience, there wouldn’t have been any of the pre-recorded stuff. The pre-recorded pieces allow us to do some extra things we wouldn’t be able to do if it was live.”

“Ghost Light” was a virtual live performance, but Lasley said it was a smaller group of performers.

“We still have to live with the safety measures in place,” Lasley said. “We can only have a small number of people in the dressing rooms getting ready. There will still be plenty of people wearing masks, especially those doing backing vocals. For singers doing a duet, they will be able to be spaced apart without a mask. Dancers will be masked. With the increase in the virus, we have to be careful about even people who are used to being together being safe as possible.

“We’re doing our best to keep everyone involved with the show safe and healthy.”

Lasley said cloth masks with a body microphone work better than shields with the sound.

“If they are a soloist or a duet socially distanced, they will not have masks on for those, so people will still get to see plenty of expressions,” Lasley said. “We’ll have a stable of performers that people are used to seeing on the stage and a couple of new ones.”

The cast includes Beck, Marty, Robyne Ault, Matt Bays, Nya Beck, Ian Black, Ben Boyce, Jacob Butler, Emily Chrzanowski, Marni Lemons, Bridgette Ludlow, Alex Smith, Tobin Strader, Jonathan Studdard and Parrish Williams.

Tickets are $27 for the livestream. For more, visit civictheatre.org.


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