Alleyway Theatre is ensuring its patrons get to continue a favorite holiday tradition this year by adapting their annual performance of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol into a radio play that can be streamed on demand throughout the month of December.
The 38th season will be a special radio recording of Alleyway Founder Neal Radice’s adaptation of the play, featuring the voices of several familiar local actors. It will also include a look back at the past 38 years of A Christmas Carol at Alleyway and a link to hear the Alleyway Carolers.
Purchasing a ticket for A Christmas Carol: The Radio Play will give you access to listen to the play as many times as you’d like through December 31. Tickets are priced at $20 and can be purchased on Alleyway’s website. Those who would like to increase the price of their ticket to send some additional support to Alleyway Theatre can do so.
To celebrate this year’s production, we interviewed the cast members about their roles in the play and their plans to celebrate the holiday season in the midst of an unusual year. Here’s what a few of them had to share with us:
Can you share a little about yourself and how long you’ve been involved with A Christmas Carol at Alleyway?
David Poole | This is my 8th year with my ACC family reprising my rolls as Marley, Topper and Old Joe (among others). I have been performing on the Alleyway stage for over 30 years.
Caoimhe Krueger | I’m 10 years old and in 5th grade. I’ve been acting since I was 5. This is my 2nd year doing A Christmas Carol, and my 3rd show at Alleyway.
Lauren McGowan | This year is my third year in A Christmas Carol. (Technically my second-and-a-half year since *fun fact* I sprained my ankle and missed the last weekend of shows last year.)
David C. Mitchell | I have been acting in theatre since 1980 when I was in seventh grade. My first play? None other than the musical version of Christmas Carol, Scrooge! I have been performing in Alleyway’s production of A Christmas Carol since 2008.
Joyce Stilson | I have been in love with performing since my grandfather took home movies of a three-year-old me and my grandmother saying Joyce be happy, Joyce be mad, Joyce cry. 2020 will mark my 30th year in A Christmas Carol.
Emily Yancey | This will be my fourth year performing as part of the Christmas Carol family.
Roger VanDette | I have a long history with Alleyway Theater’s production of A Christmas Carol. In the earliest years of this production, my sister Marie appeared in the play. I remember thinking that it would be wonderful to be part of a play that was so well done. Years later after moving back to Buffalo, Neal Radice approached me about appearing in A Christmas Carol. I was thrilled. Now I am entering my second decade in a show that I love so much.
James Cichocki | This is my fifth year in A Christmas Carol. Normally, I play both “Dickens” and Scrooge’s nephew, “Fred”, but this year we recorded it as a radio play, so to differentiate voices, I gladly stepped aside so that the originator of the role of Dickens, our fearless leader Neal Radice, could come back to the character he played so beautifully for 31 years.
John Panepinto | This is my third season with A Christmas Carol at Alleyway. I stepped in pretty late in the 2018 rehearsal process after Jerry Hudson, who had played Bob Cratchit for years, had to step out due to illness. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to meet Mr. Hudson, but the adoration the cast had for him meant that I had very big shoes to fill!
Alli Barsi | I am a senior at Orchard Park High School. This is my fifth year in Christmas Carol.
Neal Radice | Mr. Radice is Founder of Alleyway Theatre and he established the annual production of A Christmas Carol in the early 1980’s at a time when an oil crisis had left downtown Buffalo deprived of many of its holiday traditions. He has served as director of A Christmas Carol for all but one of its 38 years and performed in most years. For the most part, as in this year’s radio version, he played the narrator, Charles Dickens, and sang in the a cappella caroling quartet. Alleyway has been performing Mr. Radice’s adaptation of the classic tale for most of the past three decades.
What do you enjoy about the character you play?
There are so many things to love about playing Mr. Scrooge. It is an iconic role. I am constantly grateful to be able to play him. I am continuously motivated by his journey throughout the play. It is a quest to solve a puzzle. That never gets old. The fact that the show helps people get into the spirit of Christmas brings me so much joy. -David C. Mitchell
I adore the role of Christmas past and thrusting Scrooge into memories he must face on his night’s long journey. I imagine everyone has a moment or two from their history to reexamine with new eyes to fully understand and be their best person. Those moments of waving Scrooge in and out of the pivots of his past are truly satisfying to me. – Joyce Stilson
I look forward to playing Christmas present in a Christmas Carol every year. He is such a joyful spirit. Christmas present reminds us to enjoy what we have, to be aware of our loved ones, and to live life to its fullest. Christmas present is not only joyful, he cautions us about what the future may bring. He warns Scrooge that if he does not change his ways, the children clinging to him,(Want and Ignorance) will threaten mankind. -Roger VanDette
The character of Bob Cratchit is such a wonderful space to inhabit. He is abused by his boss yet beholden to him for the meager chance that his family can eat and survive. Still, he approaches his situation with gratitude, and exudes kindness and generosity, even in the face of tragedy and loss (in the hypothetical future). Being Bob, especially at Christmas time, is a wonderful reminder to approach others with gratitude and kindness. I hope I’m better for it. – John Panepinto
How do you plan to celebrate the holidays this year?
I have absolutely no idea, but I will miss being on stage with my consortium of caroling characters. -David Poole
I’m pretty sure I own every copy of A Christmas Carol movies. The usual well-knowns along with Rich Little Plays All The Characters, Henry Winkler, Marlo Thomas, Mr. McGoo among others. I plan on binging. -Joyce Stilson
Instead of having big family gatherings, we will gather outdoors in small groups from a distance. We’ll do a zoom meeting with extended family. We always do the Mommy Daddy Express where we put on our pajamas, drink cocoa, and drive around looking at Christmas lights in the neighborhood. I’m excited to continue this tradition this year. We also plan to snuggle by the fire and listen to A Christmas Carol! -Caoimhe Krueger
Is there a favorite holiday tradition that you’re reimagining in light of the changes brought by the pandemic?
This year has been quite stressful, to say the least. My decorations and tree give me so much happiness. So, in my personal push back to the virus and in the spirit of Auntie Mame, I am keeping the tree and decorations up until March. In your face, virus! -David C Mitchell
I should be on stage performing in A Christmas Carol. It is my favorite and only holiday tradition. I am reimagining it as me sitting in my favorite chair, covered in blankets with a mug of tea and my two cats, listening, and knowing that I did my part to keep this tradition alive as a light in these dark times. -Emily Yancey
When I first accepted the roles five years ago, I was worried that spending so much time in the theatre during the holidays would force me to give up so many of my holiday traditions.
I soon came to realize that being a part of “A Christmas Carol” meant that I was now a part of so many other people’s holiday traditions, and that was an amazing thing.
And so honestly, being a part of the “Christmas Carol” family is now my favorite holiday tradition, and I don’t know what I’ll do to replace it this year. Perhaps I will have to be satisfied watching the many adaptations available on television… though any member of our cast and crew agrees, the Muppets adaptation is the best… after ours, of course… – James Cichocki
Your ticket purchase will give you access beginning December 1 to this newly recorded radio version of our annual holiday tradition. Listen as many times as you’d like for the whole month of December. You’ll also get a look back at 38 years of Christmas Carol here at the Alleyway, and a link to hear your favorite Alleyway Carolers.