If you’ve never been to the Glendale Centre Theatre located on Orange Street especially at Christmas time, you should go.Every holiday season they put on a production of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol that is one of the best live versions around. The actors are all good, especially Mario di Gregorio who has portrayed Ebeneezer Scrooge for several years. In addition to acting, they all sing quite well. The whole experience is very festive, and for those who may not yet be in the holiday spirit, this show will fix that.
Since the theater is in the round, the audience experience is quite intimate and up close.
This was the fourth time I’ve seen the production. When I was younger I went with friends, then when I got married I took my wife, and now I bring my two sons.
My only complaint is that they allow the audience to bring candy and drinks into the theater. What differentiates a live production from a movie is that you refrain from feeding your face. I understand the need for them to earn money from selling concessions, but they should respect the sanctity of the viewing experience. Hearing the crunch of sour patch kids wrappers in the middle of Bob Cratchit crying over the loss of Tiny Tim is distracting.
While pricing varies depending on the date you go, our tickets were $25 each. That is an amazing bargain for a professional live theatrical performance. With movie ticket prices increasing (I recently paid $17 to go see a movie), for a little more money, a patron can receive a lot more entertainment value.
Another reason people should go to the Glendale Center Theatre is to simply support local productions. Earlier this year there was a rumor about the theater closing. When I inquired about this, as of now no closing is imminent. But noticing the empty seats in the auditorium, I can understand why the company is struggling.
There was a time in the past when getting seats to their Christmas Carol production was hard to come by. When I looked around the theater at the customers, they didn’t reflect the true demographics of Glendale today. It was like a tableaux of Old Glendale, a predominantly non-immigrant, older white audience. One can’t help but think of the irony in the show when the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come arrives, and ponder what such a spirit beholds for the future of this theatre.
Without the support of today’s citizenry, there may be a vacant space on Orange Street.
It would be a shame for this establishment which has been in Glendale since 1947 to close down and for future generations not to see theatre done well right in their own neighborhood.
BRIAN CROSBY is a teacher in the Glendale Unified School District and the author of "Smart Kids, Bad Schools and The $100,000 Teacher." He can be reached at brian-crosby.com.