When composer Jerry Herman wrote the song “We Need a Little Christmas” for his hit Broadway musical Mame, he could never have guessed how deeply that would be true in the year 2020. Now, a newly conceived holiday concert with that title, previewing Dec. 17 and opening Dec. 18 (to run through Jan. 3), will welcome back Asolo Repertory Theatre, which has been out of the live show business since Covid-19 closings began last March.
Asolo Rep producing artistic director Michael Donald Edwards and associate artistic director Celine Rosenthal have worked together (along with music director Steve Orich) to originate the show, which will be performed at the company’s newly constructed Terrace Stage, an open-air venue in front of the box office at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts. The press release announcing the show describes it as “A little bit camp. A little bit sentimental. A whole lot of fun.”
Rosenthal says it’s also “a celebration of our patrons finally coming home to the theater.” When they do come, they will see some familiar faces onstage, as the cast is comprised of artists who live in the area.
They include Matthew McGee (glimpsed on the Asolo stage before in Rhinoceros, Living on Love and Josephine) as the emcee. McGee frequently performs in drag, and will bring to life some beloved divas using a little holiday flair. Asolo Rep associate artistic Peter Amster is well known as a director, but he will make his Asolo Rep onstage debut here. The cast also includes Ann Morrison (Broadway’s Merrily We Roll Along, Asolo’s Beatsville), Jenny Kim-Godfrey (Asolo’s The Music Man) and Eileen B. Lymus.
The theater plans to announce updates to its 2020-21 season early in January. We Need a Little Christmas could be just the first of a number of outdoor productions. A full roster of health and safety protocols comes with the show, including advanced ticket sales only, temperature checks, ticketless entry, masks, no concessions, no physical playbills, and portable outdoor restrooms. Patrons will not have access to the building, concessions will not be available for purchase, and performance length will be about 70 minutes with no intermission. Hand sanitizing stations will be available, and all seats and common areas will be disinfected prior to and following each performance. A range of safety practices also applies to the cast and creative team during the rehearsal process.
Tickets for We Need a Little Christmas are $25 for blanketed positions on the grass (bring your own blankets) or $40 for seating. Sales to subscribers begin today, Nov. 18; to the general public, at midnight Nov. 21. Go to asolorep.org.