The holiday season is not complete without a production of “A Christmas Carol,” and for two local children, the year is not complete without starring in the play.
Lydia Harrison and Matthew Michaud are appearing in the University of Tennessee’s Clarence Brown Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens adapted by Edward Morgan and Joseph Hanreddy. The musical adaptation will run at the Clarence Brown Theatre through Sunday, Dec. 20.
For Lydia Harrison, this is the second year she has had a role in the play. This year, she is the third youngest Cratchit daughter, Belinda. Last year, she was the second youngest Cratchit daughter, Alice. In addition to her lines as a Cratchit, she participates in several group musical numbers.
“I think it’s a lot of fun because you get to meet a lot of talented people,” Lydia said. “I can learn as much as I can from the crew, the directors and the other actors.”
According to Lydia’s father, Kent Harrison, the production is made up of professional actors, graduate and undergraduate students and kids from the community.
Lydia, an 11-year-old home-schooled student, has been acting since 2006. She starred in “Annie” with Encore Theatre Company in Morristown and in Southern Kids in Theatre (SKIT) productions.
Matthew Michaud, a third grader at Foothills Elementary, also is developing a lengthy acting resume. This is the second year that Matthew has played the role of Tiny Tim in the musical production. According to Matthew’s mother, Cheryl Michaud, he is represented by a talent agent and has appeared in a Food City commercial and has auditioned for a role in the upcoming “Little Fockers” movie starring Ben Stiller. Matthew has also auditioned for a television sitcom and a Family Channel movie. On the local level he had roles in “Tommy” at the Clarence Brown Theatre and in “Les Miserables” and “Alice in Wonderland.”
“I want to be an actor when I grow up,” Matthew said. “I want to be in a movie with Jim Carrey.”
Matthew said he knows it will take hard work to achieve his dreams. To prepare for “A Christmas Carol,” both children have been rehearsing nightly.
“The British accent is kind of challenging,” Lydia Harrison said. “You have to make it not obvious that you are trying to speak with an accent.” The cast of the production have been working with a dialect coach and with a music coach.
Cheryl Michaud said the kids have been working long nights to perfect their performance. “These kids really work hard,” Cheryl added.
For Lydia, the hard work is worth it. She said she wants to get involved with theatre in college and professionally. Her advice for anyone who wants to pursue acting: “If you really want it, it takes hard work and perseverance, but it’s all worth it.”
“A Christmas Carol” at the Clarence Brown Theatre is directed by freelance director, writer and teacher, Edward Morgan. Morgan served as associate artistic director at the Milwaukee Rep, where he directed more than 30 plays. He has been a directing fellow for the Drama League in New York and his work has been honored with Helen Hayes Awards and nominations for outstanding production, directing and sound design.
Katy Wolfe Zahn, the musical director for the production, is the vocal instructor for the MFA acting students for the University of Tennessee theatre department. Guest artist, Jim Kronzer, designed the set for “A Christmas Carol.” He has designed numerous national tours including the “Pajama Game with the Backyardigans” and “Seussical the Musical.” Most recently, he decorated the White House for Halloween. Visiting artist, Katherine Rohe designed the costumes for the production. She lives in New York and designs award winning costumes for Off-Broadway company, Transport Group. Beverly Emmons is the guest lighting designer. Emmons has been nominated for several Tony Awards and she has designed on Broadway, off-Broadway, internationally and in regional theaters across the country. Mike Ponder is the production’s sound designer. He has been the resident sound designer for the theatre program and its Clarence Brown Theatre professional company for 11 years.
For more information about performance times and ticket prices for “A Christmas Carol,” call the box office, 865-974-5161 or visit www.clarencebrowntheatre.com.