LOGAN – For the first time ever, the Lyric Repertory Company (LRC) is preparing to perform a Christmas show in downtown Logan.
“A Christmas Carol has played here in the Caine Lyric Theatre before,” says Richie Call, the artistic director of Lyric troupe, “but none of those shows have ever actually been produced by the LRC.
“In fact, the Lyric Rep has never produced a holiday show at all.”
The idea of the Lyric Rep gradually beginning to perform year around, rather than just in the summer, originated when Paul T. Mitri arrived here early in 2021 to take over as chair of the Theatre Arts Department at Utah State University and artistic producer for the LRC. One of Mitri’s announced long-term goals was expanding the Lyric’s season, starting with a holiday show.
By June, that dream had become a reality thanks to the fundraising efforts of Julie Hollist Terrill, the director of the Cache Valley Visitors Bureau (CVVB).
Given that unexpected opportunity, Richie Call said that A Christmas Carol was an obvious choice for the Lyric’s first-ever holiday show. The question was which of the many versions of Charles Dickens’ classic would the repertory company perform.
Over the years, there have been numerous film adaptations of A Christmas Carol, including one starring Reginald Owen in 1938; Alister Sim in 1951; George C. Scott in 1984; and — most improbably — Bill Murray in 1988.
There have also been several stage versions of Dickens’ story. The most familiar of those to Cache Valley audiences is a musical scored by Disney composer Alan Menken that has been performed numerous times by the Four Seasons Theatre Company. Another staging of that musical is slated to premiere on Dec. 3 in Smithfield.
But the LRC will be producing a local adaptation of A Christmas Carol written by the late USU professor Sid Perkes.
Perkes was a Cache Valley native who developed a professional reputation as a theater educator, set designer and costume designer at universities in the Midwest while still in his 20’s. After returning to Utah in 1967, he became a partner with the legendary Vosco Call in establishing the modern theatre arts program at USU and founding the Lyric Repertory Company.
Perkes designed sets or costumes for more than 300 theatrical productions. When not happy with available scripts for stage adaptations of “A Christmas Carol,” he created his own.
“But there was a problem,” Richie Call admits. “Sid’s adaptation requires an enormous cast and suggests an even more enormous set. For several reasons, we needed to find a way to trim down the cast size and make some adjustments to (his) adaptation that was created in 1991.”
Another change to the Lyric’s home-grown adaptation of A Christmas Carol will be the addition of music.
“Sid’s adaptation is not technically a musical,” Richie Call explains, “but it does incorporate many traditional Christmas carols. We’re calling it a play with music.”
The director suggests that audience members come early to enjoy what amounts to a holiday pre-show.
The schedule for that event will have the show’s cast performing Christmas carols from 6:30 to 7 p.m. outside the Caine Lyric Theatre on Center Street.
Following that singing, a teaser entitled Holiday Stories Around the World will have storytellers sharing international fables and traditions from 7 to 7:15 p.m.
While audience members are finding their seats from 7:15 to 7:30 p.m., the carolers will perform from the theater’s balcony.
Evening performances of A Christmas Carol are slated for Dec. 9 through 18 at the Caine Lyric Theatre on Center Street in downtown Logan. Matinee performances are scheduled for Dec. 11 and 18.