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Performing Art
Arts and Entertainment Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 10 months ago

The Crunch that Stole Christmas forces artists to create new traditions

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The show must go on. With all that hard work, who has time for the holidays? Area performing arts talents find a way.
by: Marty Fugate Contributor

The holidays have officially arrived. If you’re a kid or a retiree, it’s time to kick back and relax. 

But it’s crunch time for the hardworking talents of our area’s performing arts organizations. Their December calendars are packed. And they’ve also got to get ready for next year. 

How do they actually celebrate the season and still keep up with the workload? 

We posed this question to various artistic directors and performers. Despite their busy schedules, some actually made time to answer.

Rebecca Hopkins is Florida Studio Theatre’s managing director, a driving force behind FST’s cabaret productions and the founder and producer of FST Improv and the Sarasota Improv Festival. For her, giving the gift of theater is its own reward.

Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins and Managing Director Rebecca Hopkins — Photo by Kayleigh Omang

“Tis’ the season — the season for everything to happen all at once! At FST, it’s the most wonderful time of the year — and there are no silent nights. Our season has been jolly … so far. We’ll have opened a total of eight shows before Christmas — four for the small kids (‘Peter Pan,’ ‘Snow White,’ ‘Playmakers’ and ‘Deck the Halls’) and four for the big kids (‘Unchained Melodies,’ ‘A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,’ ‘Guitar Girls’ and ‘Straight White Men’). Oh, and Improv keeps going ‘Out of Bounds’ every Saturday. 

“That’s a whole lot of merriment to kindle in a short span of time. And we create that joy — for a living! That happy thought gets us through all the hard work. (That and a little Christmas spirit — let’s hear it for eggnog!) 

“The holiday crunch is over in a flash. Afterward, we can always hibernate for a week or two. Until then, we keep up the pace and try not to get our tinsel in a tangle. We’ll keep putting gifts under the FST tree, for the naughty and nice alike. Give yourself a present, and see a show!”

 

Joseph Holt is a conductor, pianist, chamber music performer, arts administrator, educator and arranger. He’s puts all those talents to work as the artistic director of both Artist Series Concerts of Sarasota and Choral Artists of Sarasota. This holiday season, he had a lot to celebrate.

Joseph Holt — Courtesy photo

“Choral Artists celebrates every season with a holiday-themed performance. Our latest was the ‘Rejoice!’ concert on Dec. 9 — so this year’s musical merriment is technically over. Choral Artists marked our 40th anniversary and my 10th year as artistic director. It was an amazing concert, and worth all the hours of rehearsal and fine-tuning. For our own personal celebration, we typically attend a Hanukkah party with latkes at a friend’s house. We’ll celebrate Christmas with family in Puerto Rico, and spend a few weeks in San Juan. This marks the first time our family has returned since the devastation of Hurricane Maria. We’re really looking forward to getting together again and enjoying the fireworks on New Year’s Eve.”    

 

Christine Alexander is a founding member of Florida Studio Theatre’s Improv Troupe and a frequent performer at more gigs than you can count. 

Christine Alexander — Courtesy photo

“Improv is my thing. Decorating for Christmas? Not so much. Like this Christmas tree thing? Poinsettia, mistletoe, whatever? I’ve never been good at keeping plants alive. I tend to overwater and overlove them. As to delicate ornaments, they’d have better luck with my niece’s cat. And setting up decorations usually results in falls, cuts, and often electric shock. To compensate, we always enjoy watching other people perform this repetitive task. (Thanks, friends!) My husband and I haven’t decorated our home for over a decade — and it’s been a real time saver. I use that extra time to make more people laugh. Don’t get me wrong; if someone gives me a poinsettia or a tiny rosemary tree shaped like a Christmas tree, I will overwater it with love for sure, until it finally expires. Cash is always better.”

 

Jeffery Kin is an award-winning actor, director, playwright and the artistic director of The Players Centre for Performing Arts.

Jeffery Kin and the cast get a leg up on the holidays in the Players Centre’s 2014 production of “A Christmas Story.” Courtesy photo

“I love the film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ And I sometimes feel like George Bailey during the holidays. George felt like other people didn’t value his work — and wondered if his life made any difference. When Christmas rolled around, George felt especially depressed and overwhelmed. Theatrical work can also be overwhelming and often undervalued. During the holiday crunch, is our insanely hard work actually worth it? When I start to feel that way, something small and magical always reminds me that the season isn’t about me, that people do care about our work, and that our creative struggles lead to creative breakthroughs. Until that magic moment, I put on a holiday tie and soldier through. And whenever I hear a bell ring, I always break out in a big smile.”

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