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The Palace Theatre presents A Christmas Carol starting this weekend. Courtesy photo.




A Christmas Carol

Where: Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., Manchester
When: Friday, Dec. 2, through Friday, Dec. 23
Admission: $25-$45
Contact: palacetheatre.org, 668-5588




Christmas spirit
Palace continues its tradition with A Christmas Carol

12/01/16
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



 The Palace Theatre’s A Christmas Carol should, by design, get you into the holiday spirit, at least for a few hours, no matter what else is going on in your world. 

“I lost my mother at Christmastime. So this time is very hard for me,” Artistic Director Carl Rajotte said during an interview at the theater last week.
When Rajotte first came to the Palace 15 years ago, Executive Director Peter  Ramsey asked him to rewrite the play to be “light and happy.” 
“That was difficult for me,” Rajotte said. “So I had to get back into it with two feet and figure out what I loved about Christmas.”
He decided to direct with kids in mind. Dolls come to life, and ghosts arrive onstage with the help of “special effects galore” and giant puppets. Sets include streets covered in snow and holiday-decorated windows. Whenever Rajotte is trying to gauge how kids will interpret something, he looks to the production’s 137 child actors.
“Everyone’s inner child comes out at Christmastime,” Rajotte said. “I try to hit upon those things that give people goosebumps and make them remember times with their family.”
The show, which hits the stage Dec. 3 through Dec. 23, has become a Manchester tradition in many respects. Along with 18 actors from New York, the Palace’s A Christmas Carol features some of the same actors from past years, including Mark Nichols and George Piehl splitting the role of Scrooge and youth theater administrator/company manager Meghan Quinn as Mrs. Fezziwig. Audience members may even recognize some of the play’s kids.
“There are kids who started doing A Christmas Carol when they were 8 years old, and they’re here until they’re seniors in high school. So it’s their tradition every year too,” Quinn said.
This version contains music by New Hampshire composer and production music director Joel Mercier, which he wrote about three years ago when the production got a makeover. Mercier had known the show well — he’d performed as Mr. Fezziwig back in the day and worked closely with Rajotte to create sounds and tunes to push the plot and set the mood. 
“It was fun to be able to sit with him and dissect exactly what I needed within the song, and it was interesting to be able to design it from the ground up,” Rajotte said. “I think that’s pulled this production into a newer, better place.”
Every year’s Christmas Carol contains mild changes, from props and costumes to lines and character interpretations. But Rajotte thinks it’s the tradition that makes people come back. 
“I enjoy the excitement everyone has when they talk about A Christmas Carol, especially the children,” Rajotte said. “It’s like the feeling of Christmas morning, except from November to December.” 





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