Even though it's 11-year-old actor Morgan Isabella's first experience with a professional theater company, it doesn't show in her stage performance as a street child in the Great Lakes Theater's "A Christmas Carol."
"It's not as hard as you think it would be," said Morgan, a student at the Falcon Academy of Creative Arts in Brimfield. "I don't think of it as work, I love being in character. It's like second nature to me."
Great Lakes Theater's 24th annual production of "A Christmas Carol," which was adapted and directed by former Artistic Director Gerald Freedman, runs through Dec. 23 in Playhouse Square's Ohio Theatre, 1151 Euclid Ave., Cleveland.
While Scrooge and Tiny Tim are favorites of this Charles Dickens' classic, it's Morgan, of Brimfield, who brings the play to life. Appearing as a street child, she shows the audience the story of "A Christmas Carol" through a child's eyes.
It is Morgan's first time performing at the Great Lake Theater, however; she has appeared in many productions including "Annie," "It's a Wonderful Life" and "Miracle on 44th Street" at Dynamics Community Theater in Tallmadge and Weathervane Playhouse in Akron. Morgan said she likes performing in a professional company the most.
"I have a lot of freedom, in a professional theater you wouldn't think we did but you have a lot of freedom to develop who you think your character is. It comes to me easily."
When getting into character, Morgan takes the pre-show preparation seriously.
"When we go downstairs and take our places," Morgan said, "I always like to take a few minutes before the curtains go up to think about the first scene and what I have to do. It's like if you're going to talk to an important person, you have to know what to do and what to say to get your feelings and your point across."
Morgan's favorite part of performing is singing and watching audience reactions.
"I like making people smile," Morgan said. "At closing, when we are all singing 'I wish you a Merry Christmas,' I just like looking at the audience and seeing them all smile and sing with us, it's the best feeling in the world."
One of Morgan's least favorite parts of being an actor is the few moments she spends off stage.
"Once you're on stage, you feel like you're on top of the world then you have to go back stage and you're just ready to do more but you can't," Morgan said.
Performing on stage has its advantages and pitfalls. Morgan has had her fair share of embarrassing moments on stage, but she said she has learned from them and it makes her a better performer.
"This one time I had a tight dress on with straps buttoned to the back and I was singing "I wish you a Merry Christmas" and both of the straps just popped off," Morgan said. "I had to go all the way through the end of the show with my straps off. It taught me you just have to keep going because if you react and try to fix everything it affects the show and the audience."
Todd Krispinsky, marketing and public relations director at The Great Lakes Theater, said its young actors such as Morgan who make the play special.
"Holidays are a time for family and children are very much apart of that," Krispinsky said. "Our Christmas Carol company has many young actors. I think that keeps us fresh every year and brings a necessary joy to the production."
Krispinsky said "A Christmas Carol" is an opportunity to celebrate the season with loved ones and bring people together in the community.
"Whether it's families coming together to join us at the theater to share a memory or families coming together with other families," Krispinsky said. "I think that's part of what the holidays are all about. I think this is a great occasion to bring us together."
The story of "A Christmas Carol" is a Northeast Ohio tradition that more than 600,000 audience members have seen over two decades. Morgan said that the plays theme is contagious to the audience.
"It just shows that even if you're not the best person, you can see how other people act and try to be better and more like them," Morgan said. "If you don't take things for granted and just be grateful for what you have you can be a happier person in life. I really like the plays theme. The show is super magical and awesome."
Tickets to "A Christmas Carol" range from $28 to $60 or $26 for students. For more information, call 216-241-6000 or visit the PlayhouseSquare Ticket office.
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