"Offstage Bash"

Join us for GLT's 2021 virtual gala!

Buy Now

Tickets (216) 241-6000
Subscriptions (216) 640-8869
Groups (216) 453-4457

Hanna Theatre


Playhouse Square
2067 E. 14th St.
Cleveland, OH 44115

Mimi Ohio Theatre


Playhouse Square
1511 Euclid Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115

Great Lakes Theatre Offices


1501 Euclid Ave.
Suite 300
Cleveland, OH 44115
(216) 241-5490

Tickets (216) 241-6000  •  Subscriptions (216) 640-8869 

Hanna experience

Experience extraordinary productions in an intimate, unique theater setting.

Learn More

student Matinees

Make classic theater come alive for your students!

Book Now

Show your support!

Donors like you enable our world-class mainstage productions & vital educational programming…while enjoying great benefits!

Donate

The 12 Days of "A Christmas Carol"

The “most wonderful time of the year” is here! A Christmas Carol has been Great Lakes Theater’s extraordinary contribution to the holiday season for our Northeast Ohio community for over 30 years. We continue the tradition of bringing this timeless tale to our patrons this year. The “12 Days of A Christmas Carol” is an online content series that highlights everything you know (and some things you may not!) about Great Lakes Theater’s festive classic to keep connected with you during this holiday season. Check it out on social, this page, and via email!

Day 1  - The Beginning

Geraldfreedmanresizefor12days

Then-Artistic Director Gerald Freedman displays elements of John Ezell’s scenic design scale model for the Great Lakes Theater production of "A Christmas Carol."

In the spring of 1988, Great Lakes Theater made an enterprising decision: to invest in a lavish new take on Charles Dickens’ classic holiday tale, A Christmas Carol. Opening night, in November  1989, was 18 months away, but there wasn’t a moment to lose.

The theater’s production team estimated that the ambitious show would cost $550,000 which was double the amount budgeted for a typical production at the time. The theater’s then-board-chair John Collinson agreed to take the lead in securing corporate support at an unprecedented level. There was a script to develop. Artistic director Gerald Freedman had a vision for the adaptation: he would frame it within the context of a family reading Dickens’ story aloud before bedtime. The “frame story” would allow reedman to incorporate Dickens’ narrative voice, as well as evoke the intimacy of the writer’s own public readings where Dickens famously strove to make the audience feel — as he explained to a friend — “as if we had been sitting around the fire.”

John Collinson, a civic leader, the CEO of Chessie Systems, and Great Lakes Theater’s Board Chair in 1989, played a leading role in securing the theater’s future by helping to raise the $550,000 needed to launch Great Lakes Theater’s inaugural production of A Christmas Carol.

Johncollinsonresizefor12days

John Collinson, Great Lakes Theater Board Chair in 1989

Accaudiotimecapsulethebeginning

Click the picture to listen to an interview with two members of A Christmas Carol’s original creative team, Victoria Bussert (GLT Resident Director) and Gene Emerson Friedman (A Christmas Carol’s Co-Scenic Designer) by Great Lakes Theater Executive Director, Bob Taylor. You’ll hear the fascinating details of A Christmas Carol’s beginnings, paying homage to Gerald Freedman and original Scenic Designer, John Ezell for their lasting vision and insight. (This was originally part of a three-part series created for the 30th anniversary celebration of A Christmas Carol.)

Day 2 - "A Christmas Carol" by the Numbers

11

Day 3 - Theater for all!

Resizesfor12daysofacccontentseries1

Great Lakes Theater was one of the first in NEO to bring an inclusive, sensory-friendly performance with their classic, A Christmas Carol. Sensory-friendly performances make live theater accessible to students and adults on the autism spectrum - and their families. Special accommodations are made to create a supportive audience environment. Quiet areas are designated, light and sound cues are adjusted, and online resource materials are available in advance for all who attend.

"A Christmas Carol" Sensory-Friendly Performances by the Numbers: 

Accsensoryfriendlybtn
Sf manipulatives

“Manipulatives” are tactile toys that help calm, decrease stress and promote focus and concentration.

Sf numbersofpatrons

Click to read the Plain Dealer article detailing this special performance in its 2nd year:

 Read Article

Day 4 - Designing "A Christmas Carol"

Day 5 - Spotlight on Scrooge

Great Lakes Theater has produced A Christmas Carol every year since 1989, spanning the tenures of three artistic directors. Five actors have played the role of Scrooge over the course of the production's three-decade run.

Historyscroogegraphic

Company Well Kept

Scroogenytsmall2

Click the picture to enlarge this New York Times article from 2013 profiling the many Scrooges from across the country at that time. Number 55 is none other than Great Lakes Theater’s Aled Davies, who played Scrooge from 2008 - 2015!

Day 6 - Recreating a Tradition

Watch this video from our 2009-10 Season to get a behind the scenes look at the production process that goes into recreating Northeast Ohio’s favorite holiday tradition each season. (Scenic Design: John Ezell; Original adaptation and direction: Gerald Freedman.)

Day 7 - CMSD "A Christmas Carol" Writing Contest

The Program: Launched in 1989, our annual A Christmas Carol Writing Contest is a literacy program open to all Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) students in grades six, seven and eight. Every year, students participate by writing original stories, songs and poems inspired by the timeless themes in Dickens’ classic tale. Almost 2,000 students from over 50 CMSD schools submit entries to the contest each season!

Check out the winning selections here AND on our CMSD "A Christmas Carol" Writing Contest page!

Day 8 - Christmas Present

This year has opened up so many opportunities to innovate and create new traditions. While we can’t be in person with our beloved patrons, we have created a number of virtual "presents" to enjoy this holiday season:

Accradiobroadcast 12days
Tsmgo 12days
Achristmascarol1

Keeping the tradition alive! Be sure to tune into our radio broadcasts of A Christmas Carol, airing at 12/22 at 8:00 PM on WCLV 104.9 and 12/23 at 9:00 PM on 12/23 on WCPN 90.3 ideastream

More Info

Purchase tickets to our holiday virtual fundraiser cabaret, The Snow Must Go OnJoin our merry ensemble of artists for an unforgettable virtual holiday cabaret on December 20 at 7:30 PM. Warm your heart with songs and stories that will bring comfort and joy straight to your home this holiday season.

Purchase Tickets

Make sure the young (and young at heart!) in your family take advantage of our virtual story hour! "Story Time" runs between 30 - 45 minutes, including Santa's visit! This live, intimate virtual event is on December 22nd and is limited to 10 families per time slot - at either 6:30 PM or 8:30 PM.

Purchase Tickets

Holiday Gift Shop

Plus, if you haven’t done so already, there is still time to find the PERFECT gift from Great Lakes Theater. Check out our online Holiday Gift Shop to snag a gift your loved ones are sure to enjoy! Purchase products by end-of-day 12/14 for delivery by Christmas!

Productsheader 12days
Hookedeventgraphic
Agathachristieplaynotesathome2

Spectacular bundles, specially created items and products perfect for the theater-lover in your life! Purchase by 12/14 for delivery by Christmas!

Plus, be sure to purchase your Costume Shop Stockings by 12/14 - item will no longer be available after this date!

View All Products

Start your new year off right by learning a new skill. Great Lakes Theater costume shop artisan Leah Loar will teach you the craft of crocheting over the course of four, engaging, two-hour Zoom sessions throughout the month of January. (No prior experience necessary!) By the end of the month, you’ll have created a trendy “Snowflake Slouch Hat” to keep your head warm throughout the rest of the cold Northeast Ohio winter.

Buy Now

Join Great Lakes Theater staff and scholars for an enjoyable dive into Agatha Christie’s play, Murder on the Nile! The evening will include select readings, discussion and trivia! And all levels of participation are welcome - you can read with us, share a comment, or simply listen along.

Buy Now

Day 9 - "A Christmas Carol's" Home - Mimi Ohio Theatre

Renovatedmimitheatrelobby

Renovated Mimi Ohio Theatre Lobby, 2016

Gerald Freedman and scenic designer John Ezell were determined that the production would fully exploit the resources of the Ohio Theatre, which served as the home venue for Great Lakes Theater at the time. The [Mimi] Ohio Theatre’s trap doors, fly space and counterweight system were ideally suited for creating the dramatic scene changes and other stage tricks needed for a ghost story. “As the set design evolved,” production manager Tony Forman later explained, “it became clear that there was not enough space in the Ohio Theatre to go quickly and effectively from location to location with complete sets.” Moveable set elements would have to suggest different locations, and technical director Martin Simonsen would have tofigure out the turntables, pulleys and levers needed to make them move. But the set elements could only glide quickly if they were lightweight. Victorian era filigrees and other scenic elements had to be carved out of Styrofoam — including a 19-foot tall cornucopia filled with 5,000 grapes the size of ping-pong balls.

As Great Lakes Theater moved to their new home of the Hanna Theatre in 2008, the specificity of these original plans keeps this beautiful tradition alive in GLT’s original home in Playhouse Square. From the original renovation in 1982 to prepare it for Great Lakes Theater’s move to Playhouse Square to the beautiful lobby renovation in 2016, we are proud to still be part of this gorgeous theatre and are excited to “winter” here each year!

For more about this theatre’s history, click here to access the Playhouse Square History page!

Originalmimiohiotheatre

Original Mimi Ohio Theatre Lobby, 1921

Mimitheatrelobby 80s

Mimi Ohio Theatre Lobby, 1980s

Renovationofmimitheatrelobby

Renovation of Mimi Ohio Theatre Lobby

Prerenovationsmimiohiotheatre

Mimi Ohio Theatre Interior Pre-Renovation, 1980

Interiormimiohiotheatre renovated

Renovated Mimi Ohio Theatre Interior, 2016

Day 10 - "A Christmas Carol" Choir Program

The pre-show choir program has been part of A Christmas Carol for 14 years. Since 2005, audiences have enjoyed performances by over 200 choirs. Free to all ticket-holders, these performances occur just prior to curtain for almost all of A Christmas Carol's performances each season. This year, we’re keeping the tradition alive by offering you virtual performances provided by some of our choir partners. Enjoy these new sounds of the holiday season and pictures from over a decade of live choir performances! 

Virtual Choir Series | 2020

Divine Word Catholic Church Choir
"Silent Night"

Divine Word Catholic Church Choir
"We Wish You a Merry Christmas"

Gayle Getts Holiday Flute Ensemble 
Flute Quintet

Gayle Getts Holiday Flute Ensemble
Flute Trio

Performance Choir of Summit Choral Society
"The Angel"

Performance Choir of Summit Choral Society 
"Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"

The Saint Joseph Academy Chorale
"Silent Night"

The Singing Angels
Holiday Mash-up

Check out this gallery of past performances from our choir partners!

Day 11 - Stage Magic

Great Lakes Theater’s A Christmas Carol is a holiday spectacle with classic theatrical effects that create true magic on stage. Here's an inside look at some of the elements that go in to making this dazzling production each year!

A "Star" Turn

One of the oldest, but most effective ways to make a character disappear quickly is the traditional “star” trap. Great Lakes Theater was sure to put that to use in A Christmas Carol for an exit of one of our beloved Ghosts. Since its creation, willing (or unwilling!) candidates need to test the device each year during tech week to ensure it works as designed. In this video you see Nicki Cathro Steen (now, Production Stage Manager of A Christmas Carol, then Production Assistant) in her first test of the trap. What you don’t see is the eight foot fall to the gym mats beneath the stage! This is an exhilarating exit for anyone that gets to experience it!

FOG-tastic

Whether creating atmosphere in the foggy London streets or masking a mystical entrance/exit, the fog is truly its own character in Great Lakes Theater’s A Christmas Carol. Seven different foggers are used to create the various special effects achieved throughout this extraordinary production.

Glt112518326
Glt112518545
Glt112518686
Glt112518807
Glt112518946
Glt112518375

Larger Than Life

How do you make a giant when no nine-foot actors are available? Ingenuity and a knowledge of construction-based equipment certainly helped our original team meet that challenge. The Ghost of Christmas Present is referred to as a giant within Dickens' original text and we made sure he stayed that way in our production through a pair of easy-to-balance stilts that painters and drywall installers use!

Glt112518755

Day 12  - Tradition 2.0

Accradiobroadcast social

In partnership with ideastream, Great Lakes Theater's A Christmas Carol has been re-imagined! We couldn't let a season go by without sharing "Northeast Ohio's Favorite Holiday Tradition" with all of you. This radio adaptation of A Christmas Carol will air on WCLV and WCPN and features the talents of your favorite Great Lakes Theater company members voicing over 30 Dickens' characters! Mark your calendars and tune in December 22nd at 8:00 PM on WCLV and December 23rd at 9:00 PM on WCPN! 

You can also stream the broadcast from December 22nd - December 25th on the ideastream website.

Enjoy this gift with your loved ones as we bring A Christmas Carol to NEO once again this holiday season!

We are so excited to bring you our holiday virtual fundraiser cabaret, The Snow Must Go On! Today is the day and for those of you who have your tickets, we cannot wait to see you!

Tsmgo socialtile all

Virtually Perfect

Check out all of the additional virtual experiences we have coming up below! The first is in just a few days on 12/22 with our A Christmas Carol Story Hour Slumber Party (with Santa Visit!) and today (12/20) is the last day to reserve your spot for this family-friendly experience.

Achristmascarol1

Make sure the young (and young at heart!) in your family take advantage of our virtual story hour! "Story Time" runs between 30 - 45 minutes, including Santa's visit! This live, intimate virtual event is on December 22nd and is limited to 10 families per time slot - at either 6:30 PM or 8:30 PM.

Buy Now

Hookedeventgraphic

Start your new year off right by learning a new skill. Great Lakes Theater costume shop artisan Leah Loar will teach you the craft of crocheting over the course of four, engaging, two-hour Zoom sessions throughout the month of January. (No prior experience necessary!) By the end of the month, you’ll have created a trendy “Snowflake Slouch Hat” to keep your head warm throughout the rest of the cold Northeast Ohio winter.

Buy Now

Agathachristieplaynotesathome2

Join Great Lakes Theater staff and scholars for an enjoyable dive into Agatha Christie’s play, Murder on the Nile! Adapted in 1944 by Christie from her own novel, Death on the Nile, this classic mystery is a luxurious cruise through Egypt rife with scandal, suspicion, and, of course…MURDER. The evening will include select readings, discussion and trivia! And all levels of participation are welcome - you can read with us, share a comment, or simply listen along.

Buy Now

Great Lakes Theater @ Home

While we can't be with you physically, we have stayed connected with you virtually during our cancelled 2020-21 Season. Check out our new "Great Lakes Theater @ Home" section and catch up on all of the content we've provided this year!

COVID-19 Cancellation Updates & Information

Find out the latest information on cancelled performances and ticket resolution options here.

Great Lakes Theater's Great Genres!

We invite you to journey with us over the next several months as we profile each genre that currently holds a slot within a typical Great Lakes Theater season lineup in our latest content series!

Never miss a thing

Sign up to receive the latest Great Lakes Theater news and updates.

No, thanks.

share this page

 View Student Prep Guide

Photo Gallery

1 of 22