Every year, the Hippodrome State Theatre gives the Gainesville community a heartwarming adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol during the holiday season. Auditions are open to the entire community where children, patrons and UF students and faculty are given the opportunity to participate in the celebration.
This year’s production marks the 40th anniversary of A Christmas Carol and, to help celebrate, eight current undergraduate students, graduate students and recent alumni from the UF School of Theatre + Dance (SOTD) play various characters in the Christmas classic.
SOTD alumna Annamaria Dvorak (B.F.A. Musical Theatre ‘14) said her training from the SOTD program has helped her immensely during the process of putting on a production.
“My most beneficial classes during my training at UF was with my acting, voice and singing professors: Tim Altmeyer, Yanci Bukovec and Matt Morgan,” Dvorak said. “You have to know how to control your voice being on the Hippodrome stage and each of those professors helped me to develop my confidence in a theatre like the Hippodrome.”
But balancing the responsibilities of being a student and performing in a professional theatre is no easy task.
Brittany Bennett, a senior in the B.F.A. Musical Theatre program, said performing the show and being in class can be somewhat challenging.
“I’ve had to work on my time management and not procrastinate assignments and be on top of my vocal health for the show,” Bennett said, “but it’s been nice having the SOTD faculty be very helpful with my involvement and be more than willing to help me outside of class to not to fall behind during performance days.”
Performing in the production is considerably demanding, given there are only ten rehearsals followed by 31 consecutive shows.
However, students often find that this opportunity to perform in the theatre can help advance their careers. Summer Pliskow, a senior in the B.F.A. Acting program, thinks so.
“It definitely takes a lot of self dedication and commitment to stay on top of your work, especially with a run where there’s only ten rehearsals and then 31 shows back-to-back, so
“It's a big commitment, but if it wasn't for the lovely cooperation with SOTD and the Hippodrome, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work in a professional theatre,” Pliskow said. “I have been receiving equity points, a program to become a candidate for the Actor’s Equity Union, while being a student, which helps me in the real world to become a professional actor.”
The partnership between SOTD and the Hippodrome gives students more than the performance experience. It also shows them what life is like in the theatre.
Third year M.F.A. Acting student Amanda Hayter gets a first-hand look in her role as an intern and performer in the theatre.
“I have the unique experiences of both acting at the Hipp and being an intern here,” Hayter said. “This has provided me the opportunity to focus solely on my work, which in a sense reflects what the real world of acting will be like. During this process I have worked with wonderful artists who have taught me a multitude about life in the professional theatre.”
A Christmas Carol opened on Nov. 25 and will continue to run until Dec. 22. Tickets and showtimes are available on the Hippodrome's website.