Every teacher brings a lifetime of experiences from before and beyond their classroom to school, and for Grade 10 teacher Charlotte Nixon, it’s her record as a published and celebrated playwright. Earlier in 2020, she began work planning a one-act traveling play, following the success of her January production Frog Prince: The Musical.
Like everyone around the world, her plans were impacted when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Travelling plays would prove problematic in a cohorted world. Harder still would be in-person cast rehearsals and performances. So, she pivoted and turned a live, one-act concept into an animated film, and Nutty C and the Perfect Tree was born.
Charlotte notes, “when we think about what makes the perfect Christmas, it’s often the presents being nicely wrapped, or a lovely tree – everything as it “should” be. Often, the striving for perfect ends up underscoring the true meaning of Christmas and leaving someone out.”
Produced by SideNote Theatre, Nutty C and the Perfect Tree is about misguided tree ornaments desperately trying to achieve the “perfect” Christmas, and how the goal of perfection often ends up being what ruins Christmas. The musical features a whole cast of larger than life characters, but one in particular stands out, both for the character itself, and the actor picked to play, Pickle with Pizazz.
“I knew right away I wanted Thomas to try out for the role,” Ms. Nixon says. “I tried all summer to contact him and reached him just in time for auditions.”
Thomas, a Grade 12 student at Calgary Academy, has amassed a significant theatre background during his time at the school acting in and supporting junior and senior productions. Even further, he identified with Pickle and could bring a depth of understanding and knowing to such an important role.
Thomas only had 48 hours to learn the script, record his audition, and send it in on time. Luckily, he was offered the part only a few days later. COVID-19 continued to impact the development of this film, and the cast conducted rehearsals remotely via Zoom.
“There was a huge learning curve as we got used to rehearsing via Zoom, but in the end, it was almost better than in person, as I could see the other cast member’s full faces and reactions,” Thomas comments. “I loved being part of such an inclusive community, in a community of actors and crew who were so supportive of one another. Hurdles weren’t seen as problems but obstacles we could adapt to and overcome. We learned not to be afraid of changing things, and it turns out there is so much you can do with the recorded experience.
The cast in fact was only together in person to record a soundtrack, which was done while physically distanced and masked. Since the recording wrapped, it’s been a mad dash to production, and so Thomas and Ms. Nixon saw Nutty C for the first time alongside audiences when livestreaming began on November 24.
Nutty C and the Perfect Tree will be available for live streaming November 24 – December 31.
For more Information on the production and to purchase live streaming tickets, visit https://www.sidenotetheatre.com/nuttycandtheperfecttree