Welcome to our annual production of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Trinity Repertory Company’s version has lasted for over 40 years, in large part, because we reimagine this show every year from the ground up. Not only is the Dickens novella so well-observed and human that it is rich with inspiration in itself, but the story also has the remarkable ability to respond to new sources of delight and wonder, taking them in and making them a part of the annual telling.
Our director this year, the remarkable Mark Valdez, loved that Trinity’s production was made for the people of Rhode Island and Southern New England every year. Early last spring, he suggested that we put choir music at the center of this year’s Carol. “Choirs will save the world,” he said, “Because choirs only work when people listen to each other and work together, and we need more listening and collaboration to save the world. And this is the lesson at the heart of A Christmas Carol — listen to your fellow people and work with them to find the true meaning of Christmas.”
Well, we didn’t need any more convincing that he was right; we dried our eyes and got to work! (Mark has a great ability to move you to emotion, then to action.) Trinity Rep’s artistic associate for community, Rebecca Noon, started getting on the phone to choirs around the state. It was her goal that all of the choirs be from Rhode Island. “Partly because the major response I’ve had since starting this project is that people keep saying, ‘There aren’t even that many choirs in Rhode Island,’ and I wanted to prove them wrong.”
It turns out that there are nearly a hundred different choirs in our little but mighty state. You may see one of the over 20 community choirs who are participating, or one of the several church choirs, or even one of the many school or college choruses. You may even be lucky enough to hear the Newport Navy Choristers, who were worried that some of their members might get deployed, but signed up anyway. (I, for one, hope they are all here, safe and singing their hearts out.) In the end, there will be a couple of choirs from Massachusetts as well, but the pursuit of choirs led us to some interesting and unexpected places. Here’s Rebecca Noon again:
“My favorite story from the project is about Kol Pachem, an interfaith choir led by Dr. Joel Gluck, who also is the music director at Temple Sinai in Cranston. I reached out to the Temple knowing it was a long shot, but discovered through the process that Joel was forming this interfaith chorus and so was very excited to perform in A Christmas Carol. Emboldened by the process, I reached out to the Baha’i community through a listserve and got back an incredible, deeply moving email, that explained their community is so small they can’t support a chorus. Having already connected with Dr. Gluck, I asked him if I could hook up some Baha’i singers with Kol Pachem…. Long story short, there are now people singing together that wouldn’t have otherwise ever met. All because of A Christmas Carol.”
As I said at the beginning of this note, A Christmas Carol has the ability to take in new sources of delight and wonder to add to the glorious telling of this story. Mark is right, choirs can save us, and they bring great beauty and light into a world that needs that light so much. Our Carol this year is all about that story of light and joy, and we are so thrilled that you are here with us to enjoy it. Happy holidays from all of us here at Trinity Rep, from our family to yours.
The Arthur P. Solomon and Sally E. Lapides Artistic Director