You don’t need six reasons to see The Rep’s "A Christmas Carol" this season. You really should just trust one: Go see it because it’s joyful and wonderful.
But, the story being as it is and traditions as they are, I felt inspired to find a few lessons from this year’s amazing rendition from Mark Clements and company.
Two years ago, I got to grace the stage as one of the lucky few "VIP" walk-on extras. It was a great experience and one that furthered my love of the production and appreciation for the hard work, passion and precision that goes into the annual Milwaukee tradition at The Pabst Theater.
This year, not only did OnMilwaukee’s Molly Snyder get to grace the stage as a VIP walk-on, but my priest, the pastor of four parishes (including seven churches) and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s Vicar General of the City of Milwaukee, Fr. Tim Kitzke, got to add another six minutes of fame to his resume as a walk-on too.
His appearance was Thursday, and Fr. Kitzke used his Sunday sermon at St. Rita to reflect on his Rep experience and offer three lessons he learned from his role in the production. Since I saw the show on Friday, I’ll expand on his thoughts (the first three are his) and, of course, give him the credit for the idea for this story.
So, here they are: lessons learned from "A Christmas Carol."
Everyone has a role
Behind the scenes at "A Christmas Carol," there’s a chaotic yet wonderfully organized craziness. Actors and actresses are everywhere preparing, waiting and positioning. They all need to work together to make what’s happening on the stage look flawless. It’s a wonderful lesson for us all. Collaborations and connections matter, especially during the holidays.
Know your role and do your job
Collaboration is key to making the production hum because everyone on the cast knows his or her role. And this is an important lesson. Stay in your lane, mind your own business and – yes, care and comfort others this season – but know that how you do your own work is truly important. Work hard, care hard, do your job, don't fret about others, don't talk about others and be your own professional, passionate person.
Listen to the voice
Fr. Tim couldn’t help but notice that the stage manager and her voice were directing and leading the production. He made the fitting analogy on Sunday to the voice of God that often calls and leads us, even when we aren’t listening. This season, believe that there’s a mission bigger than us all and that it is calling us to where we need to be.
Live with an attitude of gratitude
The classic Charles Dickens story of "A Christmas Carol" can be interpreted in many ways. For me, ultimately, I believe it’s about gratitude. Sure, the ghosts show Scrooge his possible paths, but all of the lead characters live with gratitude, which finally drives Scrooge to turn the tables on his life.
Don’t let money have you
Some may think that "A Christmas Carol" is an anti-profit tale. I don’t. I think it shows that with power and money comes responsibility and that no matter how much money you have or don’t have, you should not let money have you. Give and you shall receive. It’s a classic message that we all need to hear.
I’ve seen The Rep’s version of "A Christmas Carol" at least 20 times in my still-rather-young life. And every time, it reminds me to slow down, appreciate and have more fun. The charades scene, the snow that falls inside the theater, the wonderful transformation of Scrooge and the finale of "Joy to the World" – they all remind the audience to grab this life we have and live it, but not to rush everything this season. Life's simply too precious.
Enjoy this festive season, Milwaukee. And, please, no matter what holiday you celebrate, consider seeing "A Christmas Carol." This current version is wonderful, joyful and packed full of lessons that we all need to hear, no matter the time of the year.
A life-long and passionate community leader and Milwaukeean, Jeff Sherman is a co-founder of OnMilwaukee.
He grew up in Wauwatosa and graduated from Marquette University, as a Warrior. He holds an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and is the founding president of Young Professionals of Milwaukee (YPM)/Fuel Milwaukee.
Early in his career, Sherman was one of youngest members of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, and currently is involved in numerous civic and community groups - including board positions at The Wisconsin Center District, Wisconsin Club and Marcus Center for the Performing Arts. He's honored to have been named to The Business Journal's "30 under 30" and Milwaukee Magazine's "35 under 35" lists.
He owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee with his wife Stephanie, his son, Jake, and daughter Pierce. He's a political, music, sports and news junkie and thinks, for what it's worth, that all new movies should be released in theaters, on demand, online and on DVD simultaneously.
He also thinks you should read OnMilwaukee each and every day.