An Oklahoma Christmas Tradition Finds Way To Continue During The Pandemic

Friday, December 11th 2020, 7:40 am
By: Colby Thelen

This Christmas season, Lyric Theater of Oklahoma is celebrating its 10th annual running of "A Christmas Carol."

Just like every other year, it takes place live and in person. 

"It's been a moment of hope in this horrible time, for the city and for Lyric," says Michael Baron. 

Baron is the show's producing artistic director. This year's adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic is Baron's brainchild, and he knew making it work during a pandemic would not be easy. 

In the spring, the theater made the decision to postpone all their shows except one, A Christmas Carol. Their hope was that by the end of the year, they could find a way to make it happen. They did with a little creativity. 

The show typically takes place in the Plaza Theatre on Northwest 16th street, but producers knew that wouldn't be an option this year. 

Baron followed the lead of New York City theater unions and decided the show could go on outside. The search for a venue led the theater group to Harn Homestead on Oklahoma City's northeast side. 

"It's like a small magical village here already," he says. It would soon be transformed into a Victorian Era city made for the likes of Bob Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge. 

The show is also not carried out in the usual way. It's a little shorter and more immersive for members of the audience. 

"The audience walks through the entire production," explains Baron. "They go from scene to scene. There are 8 stops along the way that tell the story." 

In some ways he believes it adds to the experience. 

"The show is in 360 which is in many ways more exciting than when you're in the theater because you don't know where the show is coming from."

At the gravesite, when Scrooge calls out in prayer at the realization of the life he's lived, Baron believes the outdoor setting adds a powerful element.

"It means a lot more right now to see Scrooge have that reclamation moment outside under the heavens." 

Audience members have even said they like this version of the show the best. Baron says they've considered continuing with the format even post pandemic. 

"If the idea wasn't exciting before COVID it's not going to be exciting during COVID," he says. "I think it's a cool idea regardless of the pandemic."

Additional safety protocols were also taken in addition to the outdoor setting. Audience member must wear masks and get temperature checks upon arrival. 

The actors arrive in costume, carry out any costume changes on their own and put on their own mic. They no longer mingle with the crowd at the end of the performance. 

In addition to safety protocols the show also ran into weather related challenges in the beginning. October's historic ice storm left the crew cleaning up tree debris, while finishing the final touches on the sets. 

Since then, the show has only had to cancel three of their 60 plus performances.

They advise audience members to dress appropriately. 

Shows run daily through December 23rd.

Click here to find tickets and more information.