Christmas means money to the theater community

Their was a recent discussion here in Kansas City which told for many theater companies and the KC ballet, Christmas is there most profitable season and actually in many ways carries them thru the rest of the year. For example the Missouri Rep, a college based theater, does “A Christmas Carol” every year and have almost 40 days of sold out shows 7 days a week including double matinees and often the only reason people buy season tickets is to get prime slots to see “A Christmas Carol”. This compares to their regular season with shows only 3-5 days a week where attendance is often spotty. Similar is the KC Ballet which does “The Nutcracker” and is the only time they perform to sold out shows.

Personally I think this is because the Christmas shows are ones you know will be good and become an annual holiday event for many families. The rest of their season can be hit or miss and really only appeals to true theater patrons.

Even the fringe theaters have found out the benefit of running some sort of Christmas based show.

All that means money in the pockets of the theater community. And not just the actors because they also bring in more set people, costumers, and even ushers. People have not just jobs but benefits and pensions because of Christmas shows.

Of course the downfall to this is that the people who are part of this do not get any breaks between Thanksgiving and New Years.

Has anyone here been a part of this?

I used to be in a small Repertory theatre company, and we did six shows a year, but as it was for a small town audience each run was maybe a week to ten days: Friday to the next Sunday. Three of the shows were always just for kids, as there are three scheduled holiday breaks for kids each year (it used to be May, August, and January. I don’t know what it is now) and it was always a good excuse for parents to get the kids out of the house so they were very popular. They paid for the adult shows that were put on in-between.

And then one Christmas we put on a pantomime, Cinderella, and it was the biggest success we ever had during my time with the company. Full houses every night, and we tried to throw in contemporary jokes and a bit of audience participation. It wasn’t as spectacular as the British tradition, which goes all out, but for our little crowds we put on a good show.

For some reason we didn’t do another Christmas show after that, we had a very old-fashioned committee who didn’t really seem to grasp how to make money, but I think if we had maintained the pantomime tradition, for an extended run, we could’ve made a mint that supported half the year’s shows.

This evening I shall be giving my Martini* (and Ernie, Eustace, Eddy and the Announcer) again, with a local amdram all-stars group. The show is a fundraiser, and is working well so far (two more dates to go after tonight). It’s a christmas favourite, of course, though perhaps not as well known here in the UK. I’ve popped the title in a spoiler box for those who are excited that they recognised the character names:

*It’s A Wonderful Life - presented as a ‘live’ radio broadcast, meaning nobody has to give up time learning lines and blocking out moves. Apparantly ‘films on the radio’ drummed up business for the picture houses back then.

Panto is of course a staple of amdram and provincial theatre in the UK. It provides much needed employment for C-list celebs and reliable revenue for all concerned. Do we mind working when other people are relaxing? Nope, that’s always been the deal with theatre. Besides, it’s not like it’s real work…

In college I worked as part of a crew on a local production of “The Nutcracker” in the college’s theater during the first two weeks of winter break. I ran the follow-spot. We’de work night and day for 2 weeks – 3 days of technical rehearsal, and 10 shows in a week. (7 evening shows plus 3 matinees).

I fucking hate the Nutcracker now (see it 14 times in two weeks x 3years and you’d hate it too), but it put a quick $500 in my pocket, and that was a LOT of money in 1997.

It was an outside event (not produced by the university) and the theater only made money from the rental of their facility. Boring-ass old people musicals (South Pacific, etc.) were the theater’s bread and butter with the locals.

You know I’ve seen those done and it always strikes me they must be saving a ton on costumes and set designs also.

BTW, I dont get the Martini reference.

Well, we all dressed ourselves pretty much (I had a ‘80s does 40s’ suit, I splashed out a couple of quid on argyle socks. The others have done much the same). We’ve built some flats, an ‘on air’ sign and a radio logo, and borrowed some wooden chairs from a local prop store. The mics etc are owned by company members. But yes, it’s cheap as chips - once you’ve paid for printing a dozen copies of the script on single-sided paper, and then sourced authentic-looking bulldog clips.

Martini is the bar owner in IAWL, George Bailey makes his decision to jump off the bridge in his bar. Why he has a bridge in his bar, I don’t know… :stuck_out_tongue: