As I make my way to McAllen for work this evening, I am proud to finally share a story which provides me with equal parts pride and embarrassment, though, the older I get, the more I have just learned to accept my past; Without exception, just as it was.
The location this week is Houston’s Alley Theatre, which I am specific to highlight at a time of year that displays the annual production of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol”. Admittedly, I took separate photos when I was in the bustling Theatre district, but it was the show that brought me back to the steps.
The ghosts of Christmas past remind me of a time when I thought that I might dream of being a professional actor. I was Someone who could trade a reality for the printed and prescribed fate of another character. The year must have been 1996 and I was determined to establish a career as a child actor.
Fresh off the heels of the successful large cast live action cast Disney movie formula, I was enamored by the attention that the theatre brought. It was a way for me to find guided self expression, make people laugh, and at times even escape the darker parts of my home life and self awareness. The theatre brought together plenty of company both attentive to and behind the curtain.
I was lucky to have parents who supported my dreams, though never pushed their own will for stardom upon me. Honestly, I think my father had always hoped I had been more mechanically inclined and/or more athletic. For what I was willing to learn about the human condition that the Theatre could teach, my parents made time for seasonal school performances, time for me to rehearse at a small children’s theatre company, and even auditions for The Alley.
While I might have briefly been featured once on a local running commercial, I count the biggest role I ever held as “The Christmas Carol’s Peter Cratchit” at The Alley.
I never had an agent, nor ever made enough at it to buy more than a marionette (also, big for the age group at the time.) The performance schedule was such that I was required to miss a significant amount of school. Maybe it was a feeling that things were working out, or that I had these dreams bigger than the body that held them in, but I let it go to my head and started to think I might be able to get buy just doing less. I was a charming young man, able to woo the attention of my teachers to accept late work, give me a pass on things due, and even the occasional overlook at some of the stormy self deprecating thoughts I would conjure as they were always presented with a smile. The theatre was both a really big start for me in trying to learn who I was and where I wanted to go, but it was falling on my face in my personal life at that time that really defined a start of the life I could come to expect; working for the things that I wanted to achieve and sometimes having to work doubly as hard for them.
The ghosts of Christmas present reminisce on the poster that my Mother had printed, asked the full cast to sign, and had laminated/framed from possibly the print shop at her corporate career. All these years later, I think that my diving between keeping that part of my life buried and ever bringing it up as a “believe it or not” fun fact/party trick are hard with such concrete (or foamboard) proof. Ultimately, I am trying to remain thankful for the experience as unique and my own. And that helps to own it, because ultimately, it was a big part of who I wanted to be which led me to who I am today.
The ghosts of Christmas future loom in greater focus for me this year more than any. I proudly welcomed a daughter into the world in May and so Christmas, a holiday that I have struggled with for many reasons over the years is refreshing to know what I can provide for her. I’m figuring out the traditions that I want to make a part of her experience. Ultimately, when she is old enough, all I can firmly land on is that I am eager to share “A Christmas Carol” through The Alley with her.
And that leads me to our track this week, Henry Mancini’s “Carol for Another Christmas”. It is a track that I pulled because it has an epic feel to it. Something that builds as a challenge, the way that I view making sure I share traditions with my daughter.
And for those wondering about A Colonel Sanders reference, my friend Lizzie tells a story about how in Japan, holiday meals can be a little non traditional. As the tale goes, it has become trendy to go in for a holiday bucket of KFC to share for the table. It is both kitsch and meaningful, the ways that I am landing on the best of holiday traditions. Anyway, it was a fun fact that I wanted to include as the track this week came from a promotional holiday record from KFC called “Christmas with The Coloniel”. It too, is kitsch, but also meaningful, as it holds some solid holiday Ballads.
Well, that wraps it up for the week. I was never Tiny Tim, but I hope however you celebrate this year, that you have a wonderful holiday.