By Sheridan Block
Get into the Christmas spirit this weekend with two live radio performances of "A Christmas Carol" at the Wright Opera House.
Presented by the Ouray County Players, this will be the second time the show has been hosted at the Wright since 2007.
The Ouray County Players' radio adaptation of Charles Dickens’ popular novella was created by director Mike Hockersmith in 1999. Having been inspired after seeing another live radio performance, Hockersmith used aspects of the original story, the 1937 radio play and various other radio versions to create a revamped version of the Christmas tale. Nearly 100 hours of work was put into drafting a script and combining original sound effects and musical cues to make the hour-long radio production.
The goal of a radio play is to use the script with the actors’ tones, the mood, setting, sound effects and music to allow readers to create scenes in their minds using their imaginations, said Hockersmith.
“Even though it’s fun to watch (on stage), it’s even more fun to listen to as if you were sitting in front of a radio,” he said.
Unlike regular stage productions where actors are concerned with memorizing scripts, using their bodies and changing costumes, a radio performance relies mostly on the actors’ voices and tones. It’s less important about how individuals look and their facial expressions, said Hockersmith.
The players have begun rehearsing only this week, and while the production is one that needs to come together fast, Hockersmith said he is positive that the cast will do well, as many of them have had experience with other radio performances.
The cast is made up of locals, all of whom are members of Ouray County Players. Original music was composed by Hockersmith’s wife Nancy Ziglar, and sound effects are directed by Nancy Nixon. Other cast members include John Kissingford, Rob Carrick, Dan Preston, Karen Olson, Kathy Gregory, Janet Dunham, Brian Degenhardt, Phylis Fagrelius, Kate Kissingford, Chiara Degenhardt, Vicki Lane, Bruce Gulde, John Cotner, Brennain Degenhardt and Glynn Williams as narrator.
Since its inception in 1999, different members of the Ouray County Players have performed the radio show at venues around the county, including the Sherbino Theater and the Ouray School, as well as the Sheridan Opera House in Telluride.
Community reception has been extremely welcoming, even from children who enjoy sitting in the front near the sound effects portion of the stage, said Hockersmith. In fact, due to a number of requests, the performance will be hosted twice this year at the Wright to ensure people will be able to attend.
“I think it’s going to be great,” said Hockersmith. “If you want to get into the Christmas spirit, this is the way to do it.”
A Christmas Carol will be performed at the Wright Opera House on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 6 and 7, at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids. Visit thewrightoperahouse.org for additional information.