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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Child's Christmas in Wales ---> GO

I’ll be honest: I’m not a Christmas person so much. Now I’m not offended by the holiday, and I don’t think you’ll hear anyone calling me “Ebenezer Grinch” behind my back – I’m not that bad – it’s just not my favorite. So I'm not one to rhapsodize on all things Christmas.

But I have to say, after seeing it last weekend, there is probably not a more heartwarming way to start the season than by taking in a performance of BPT’s co-production (with Boston Children’s Theatre) of the Dylan Thomas classic A Child’s Christmas in Wales. The production, beautifully adapted and directed by BCT Artistic Director Burgess Clark, is sweet, full of great performances…and you can’t help but see yourself (and those you love) in the family antics onstage. What resonated most for me? The uncles with cigars and the boisterous aunts are my father’s family all over. I couldn’t help but laugh and smile.

And to get you primed for the play, here is a story that appeared on NPR several years ago (which also includes audio links to Dylan Thomas himself reading A Child’s Christmas...). Turns out the story behind the story is pretty good, too; that we have it at all is thanks to the tenacity of two young entrepreneurs, Barbara Holdridge and Marianne Roney.

Founders of Caedmon Records, the duo – then freshly-minted college graduates – in 1952 sought (well, kind of stalked) Dylan Thomas, in hopes he would allow them to record him reading some of his poems. When the day of the recording session arrived, Thomas showed up with some material, but not enough to fill a long-playing record (remember those, kids?). To fill the space, the poet suggested a short Christmas story he’d had published in Harper’s Bazaar years before, but that had gone otherwise unnoted. Guess what it was?

The story of the beginnings of Caedmon Records (not to mention the beginnings of the audio books industry) and how this classic story came to be recorded is a Christmas treat unto itself. Even for semi-grinchy crusts like me.

P.S. And listen to the “extended version” of the interview, too, to hear the story about Holdridge, Ezra Pound, and the salami!

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