Starting rehearsals for Dallas Theater Center’s A Christmas Carol the day after Halloween seems to me to be some sort of sadistic joke. It is way too early in the calendar year to speak about sprigs of holly or to convey excitement over a bubbling pot of Christmas pudding. It’s 82 degrees. The other problem is that the kid cast is so hopped up on Milk Duds and Sweet Tarts that it is impossible to even think of asking them to sit still and sing happy for at least three days.
Having kids in the cast is one of the unique joys of A Christmas Carol rehearsal. Each adult member of the cast has a growing conflict inside his or her heart: the kids are sweet and adorable, the kids are a walking A-bomb of bacteria. As it inevitably does, sickness tore through the adult cast like a tomahawk. The first casualty was Brierley Resident Acting Company member Steven Walters. Steve left the rehearsal one night with the knowledge that not only would he miss the next day’s rehearsal but that he may be infected with an airborne disease that could wipe out the entire Southwest and most of Mexico. It turned out to be an upper respiratory infection (or, I as humorously named it, an upper repertory infection). The next to go down was local star and Broadway vet Brian Gonzales. He had a stomach bug. The reported carnage was unthinkable. That bug then passed to our stage manager, Caron. The next victim was yours truly. I was hit with a bad cold. I was coughing so much in an office meeting that our managing director Heather covered her face and wouldn’t allow me to reach into the communal cookie bowl. I was an outcast.
We begin tech rehearsals at the end of this next week and previews start the day after Thanksgiving. It’s a gauntlet of injury, sleep deprivation and icky illness. And at the end of that week we’ll have a great show. We’ll have lights, costumes, well-oiled dance numbers and a great cast (Kurt Rhoads is gonna be a good Scrooge, y’all). And we’ll be smack dab in the middle of the Christmas Season.
Let’s hope it’s not still 82 degrees. Those costumes are warm.