A Christmas Collaboration: SIC Theatre, Music and Art Creatively Tell a Christmas Classic

November 23, 2020


HARRISBURG, Ill. (November 23, 2020) – A tale often told in the heart of winter, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a timeless and renowned work. The departments of Theatre, Music and Art at Southeastern Illinois College will bring a particular revival to the telling of this tale this December with the production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: The Radio Play.

“This was an entirely new experience for my students and me,” says director Gareth York.

He notes the production has been a learning curve for the cast, but is proud nonetheless.

“They really stepped up and accepted this new experience making the best of an unusual situation. I could not be prouder of the cast or of the production we created together,” York says.

Making the best of an unusual situation is a mantra shared amongst the collaborators.

“When the pandemic and subsequent closures happened last spring, none of us knew what the future held for the performing arts. Live performances came to a screeching halt,” explains director of music Cory Garmane. “Coming into the fall, we knew we wanted to do something for our students and the community, but also recognized that we wouldn’t do anything that would risk the health and safety of our students, staff and patrons. A live performance was not – and is not - an option. This got our creative juices flowing.”

As this particular adaptation of A Christmas Carol has been adapted for radio, the creative team wanted to capture a specific style for the production: 1940s radio. Grouped in the “Golden Age of Radio”, the 1940s were years where radio was the dominant medium of home entertainment. Relative to such, radio dramas flourished in popularity.

“The students involved have learned a bit of media history coupled with a performance devoid of any visual enhancements,” Garmane says.

To bring a historical ambience to the radio retelling of this Christmas classic, Garmane mainly chose pieces that would have existed during the time when Scrooge would have been walking the streets, the only exception being the song “Once Upon a December” from the modern musical “Anastasia”.

“This production is not a musical, but the creator granted us the ability to add musical selections to it,” adds Garmane.

The students learned the music through rehearsal tracks recorded by Garmane. The music director says that while the process is certainly not ideal, it has allowed him and his students to continue making music. The process has been a learning experience for all.

“As for me, this show has been a labor of love and learning. Before we began this process, I had never worked with audio editing of any kind,” Garmane says. “This experience has taught me much about audio mixing and engineering.”

Garmane explains that he handled all of the mixing and arranging for the audio tracks, then a colleague of his in Los Angeles (Eliot Luxion) mixed all of the choral works.

“This has been a tremendous team effort and I am very pleased with the ending results,” Garmane exclaims.

A tremendous team effort, indeed. The SIC Theatre and Music departments worked very closely in getting all the recordings needed for both the script and music aspects required for this endeavor. The SIC Art Department has provided three original illustrations that will also appear throughout the radio show.

Adapted for radio by Anthony E. Palermo, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: The Radio Play will be available for audiences via the Southeastern Illinois College YouTube channel. The virtual endeavor will be available on the channel December 11 and 12, from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. with an estimated run time of an hour. The radio play is directed by SIC theatre instructor Gareth York, music directed by SIC music instructor Cory Garmane, and original works by the art department and coordinated by SIC art instructor Sara DeNeal.