By Rodney Raftery, Special to the Gazette
The leaves have almost all fallen. And the evening frost touches the parks and neighborhoods of JP. If you take a stroll down Eliot Street, you can feel that the holidays are almost upon us. And if you walk by The Footlight Club, you may think they’ve already arrived.
“A Carol Christmas” is about to go up, marking its 11th year performing in—and raising money for—America’s oldest community theater.
“It truly is a tradition so for many people in the community,” said Carol Gallagher, “A Carol Christmas’s” founder and leading lady “We perform the very first weekend in December, and it helps kick off the holiday season—or us, and for the people who come to the show.”
Part musical, part comedy, part sing-along and part improv, “A Carol Christmas” began as a fundraiser for the Footlight Club as part of the Eliot Hall Restoration Fund. So far, the building at 7a Eliot St. has undergone a complete first floor renovation with new bathrooms (including a handicapped bathroom), a renovated parlor space and a complete interior repainting to recreate the rich beauty of the Victorian building. The Trustees of The Footlight Club (a small, unpaid group of do-gooders) continue to raise money for access and restoration.
“It’s a beautiful building, but it’s old,” said Brian Crete, chair of the Trustees. “There’s always more work to be done. But it’s worth it. You walk through those front doors and know it’s worth it.”
The show is sponsored by friends, fans and local Jamaica Plain businesses, and every dollar raised goes directly to the theater.
“Businesses like Classic Cleaners and Centre Cuts Salon and Spa — they’ve supported this show year after year,” said producer Charlotte Dietz. “I don’t know if they know how much that means to us, but it’s a lot. We couldn’t do it without them.”
The evening begins at 7 p.m. in the downstairs parlor of the Footlight Club, with friends, neighbors, cocktails and hors d’ouevres. The curtain of the main stage goes up at 8 p.m. And from there, it’s anybody’s guess.
“There’s always music. Great holiday music. Some classics. Some you’ve probably never heard,” said Jennifer Roberts, performer and long-time Footlight Club member. “And there’s usually a theme. But sometimes that changes mid-show, so we never really know what is going to happen. Which can be…interesting.”
“A Carol Christmas” runs Dec. 2 and 3. Tickets are $25. For more information, visit footlight.org or call 617-524-3200.
The writer is a performer in “A Carol Christmas.”