Ashleigh Prince spoke with Sriram Emani and Annie Kerins about A Christmas Carol, their careers, holiday traditions and more. Read on for highlights from the interview, or listen to the full interview below. Then tune in to Talk of the Commonwealth with Hank Stolz on WCRN 830AM Fridays at 9 AM and Saturdays at 1 PM for more behind-the-scenes interviews.
Ashleigh: Hello everyone and welcome back to Behind the Scenes at The Hanover Theatre! This week, we’re getting into the holiday spirit. I have two very special guest with me today from A Christmas Carol! Let’s start with Annie, the Assistant Director of A Christmas Carol.
Annie: Hi there! My name is Annie Kerins and I’m really happy to be here today.
Ashleigh: Welcome, Annie! We also have our new Bob Cratchit, so we have Sriram in the studio today.
Sriram: Hello, this is Sriram Emani! I’m so excited to be here, thank you for having me.
Ashleigh: Absolutely, we love having special guests here. We always get to meet such fascinating people that come through our doors on a constant basis. Every Friday, we have quite a party. I’m happy to welcome you to the studio for the very first time.
Sriram: Thank you, glad to be here.
Ashleigh: I know that we’re a little bit early, but let’s talk A Christmas Carol. Halloween has passed, so now it’s time to get into the spirit of Christmas. I know rehearsals are about to start and things look a little different this year. Let’s talk a little bit about how the rehearsal process happens at The Hanover Theatre.
Annie: We typically start rehearsals the day after Thanksgiving. We have about two-and-a-half to three weeks where we do 40-hour rehearsal workweeks before putting the show on the stage and opening on December 16. Right now, we’re in the pre-production part of the process. We are putting things together with our costumer, for example. We’ve sent her costume measurements for the actors and she’s starting to put pieces together. We have our contact lists, organizing the schedule, getting the scripts and updating the scripts, so that’s sort of where we’re at. Today is a very exciting day because we’re actually getting ready to do a photoshoot with Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim.
Ashleigh: Yes! By the time you’re listening to this, you may have seen some of our photos here and there. We’re all so excited as we’re gearing up for this holiday season and I think we all deserve it after this past year-and-a-half that we’ve experienced. Let’s talk about it from an actor’s perspective; Sriram, share with us a little bit about how you’re feeling about jumping into the production?
Sriram: I am so excited. I love the character of Bob Cratchit and I’m so excited to meet my Tiny Tim. I was just telling Annie the other day that “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” is a carol that is so close to my heart because I grew up in Mumbai and I used to have this tiny toy that I would pull and it would play me a lullaby very quietly. This tune was my favorite and I used to fall asleep to it, and I didn’t know what it was. When I first heard it after I grew up a little bit more, I was like, “That’s what it is!”
“We Wish You a Merry Christmas” has been one of my favorite pieces ever since, and to know that we’re going to be performing it in “A Christmas Carol” is really exciting to me. It’s going to be the first time I’ve performed that song on stage.Sriram Emani
Sriram: I’m going to be meeting more of my Cratchit family today, that’s really exciting. Everyone is so warm and amazing to work with and I couldn’t be more excited.
Ashleigh: I know! I’m recalling a couple of episodes ago when we were on the hunt for our new cast. Sitting here with you today, it’s really exciting to have seen this progression so far. You mentioned growing up and your connection to a Christmas carol, but let’s talk a little bit about your background. Let’s get to know you!
Sriram: My background is a very different one than what you would probably expect. I grew up in Mumbai being a nice, good Indian kid and starting engineering, and that’s what I did for my undergraduate degree. I trained for about 12 years in South Indian classical vocal music called Carnatic music. I also sing a lot of Bollywood and perform a lot on stage for singing, dancing and acting. That’s all I ever wanted to do, but I just didn’t know what you could do with that later. After engineering, I went into management consulting and they sent me to New York at a very young age. I remember running 13 blocks one winter night to see Phantom of the Opera and I think my life changed that night. I decided that I have to be in the performing arts space.
Sriram: Once I went back to India I joined the National Center for the Performing Arts, which is India’s largest performing arts center, and I ran marketing and business development for them for two years. One of the perks of the job was that I could walk into any of our five theatres everyday and watch opera, ballet, folk music, classical concerts and more. After two years of that, I came here to do my MBA at MIT. While I was there, I worked with the President of Lincoln Center with the global head of digital business at Sony Music. I did some consulting for Disney Theatrical Group, helping them figure out how they can take musicals to India. I started acting while I was here and started doing TV, short films, independent cinema and playing a lot of lead roles. On one of the projects, Annie was my co-actor. She said, “I saw you on the Zoom table read and we’d love to have you audition for Bob Cratchit.” I’m like, “Wow! Where is that happening?” and she said, “The Hanover Theatre.” I looked it up and I’m like, “This is so exciting.”
I remember doing multiple takes of Bob Cratchit and thinking, “I really have to nail this. I really want to do this.” I sent the audition in and the rest is history.Sriram Emani
Annie: It was perfect, I have to say, the self-tape. Sometimes when you spot someone and you recognize talent and you say, “Are you interested in this? Can I invite you to audition?” but you don’t know what will come of it. It was so exciting when I saw Sriram’s tape and it was perfect; even the background and the color shirt that he was wearing, everything was great. It’s exciting to hear your end of that story.
Sriram: That was also my favorite part of it, when Bob is talking about Tiny Tim; I love everything about that character and how much he loves Tiny Tim. It was great and I’m glad I got to do that.
Ashleigh: And it just clicked! Wow, that is so cool. I know that we had talked about it before, but let’s talk about who else is joining the cast this year.
Annie: We have lots of exciting folks. We have some familiar faces, like Laura D. DeGiacomo is back in the role of Millie and Tyler Bellmon as Fred. We have some new cast members, including Tye Roberson as Ghost of Christmas Present and Kenneth de Abrew playing our adult Timothy this year. There’s so many cast members who I’ve only seen on a screen at this point and I’m so ready to welcome them in. We also have Anita Hollander joining the cast this year and she is the SAG-AFTRA’s Chair of Disabilities for the Performing Arts, so I’m really excited to have her as well.
Ashleigh: Wonderful! Of course, we’ll be able to spot you in the production as well!
Annie: Yes! I am going to be playing Mrs. Fezziwig this year!
Ashleigh: Wow! Everyone keep an eye out for Annie. I think something that’s really interesting about this production is that it has the same spirit every year, but there’s always some kind of fresh twist. There’s always something new so that every time you come, there’s something new to find and something new to discover. I think that’s really great and unique. With this production being as large as it is, it’s really exciting to see what’s in store for this year. Aside from the new casting, what can we look for?
Annie: So many things! It’s interesting talking about the show because we’re talking about a lot of things in reference to what we did in 2019. Last year, we did A Christmas Carol Reimagined, so it was completely different to tailor the show to an eight-person version.
This year, it feels like an awakening of revisiting certain elements of the show that I’m really excited about. I think we’re definitely doing more work in exploring some of the inequities of London Town during 1843 and the different and marginalized communities Scrooge interacts with.Annie Kerins
Annie: We’ve cast an Indian Cratchit family which is a new approach for us for the show, so there’s a lot to explore and I’m looking forward to it. I’m also looking forward to the Marley sequence. We have a new Marley this year, Broadway’s Jon J Peterson is joining the cast.
Ashleigh: I just can’t wait. If you haven’t experienced the magic of the set, dazzling costumes and wonder of the story, don’t miss out! Get your tickets for A Christmas Carol coming to The Hanover Theatre’s mainstage December 16 – 23. Visit our website at TheHanoverTheatre.org or contact the Box Office at 877.571.SHOW (7469) for more information. We look forward to having you!