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BWW Interview: How KRIS KRINGLE THE MUSICAL Is Spreading Virtual Cheer This Holiday Season

The show will soon release a series of magical online videos.

BWW Interview: How KRIS KRINGLE THE MUSICAL Is Spreading Virtual Cheer This Holiday SeasonThis holiday season, Kris Kringle The Musical has created something wholly unique that will bring the magic of the boy who sees toys in the stars to an audience that yearns for a warm-and-fuzzy Christmas feeling!

With theaters dark all over the world, Kris Kringle The Musical will soon release a series of magical online videos, culminating in a full-length online production which was, in its entirety, cast, rehearsed and recorded remotely. This year's offering of the well established musical is sure to delight.

Starting December 1st, you'll be led through an Advent Calendar door to enjoy a new part of the story each day, with bonus videos, including a Spanish version of one of the show's most popular songs, "My North Star". All of the videos are FREE and fun and can be gifted to family, friends, and loved ones!

Below, BroadwayWorld catches up with the musical's creator, Maria Ciampi, to hear all about how the show is bringing the magic of the holidays to your home this season!


What is Kris Kringle about in a nutshell?

Kris Kringle The Musical is an enchanting holiday musical for the whole family that reveals the untold story of Kris Kringle, a boy who sees toys in the stars. Discover what happens when an evil toy company CEO crosses paths with Kris, a young, jobless toymaker whose family name carries a curse with the power to destroy Christmas. From the top of the world in the North Pole, Kris Kringle teams up with Santa and Mrs. Claus, the beautiful Evelyn Noel, a band of hilarious Apprentices and Elves, and magical Toys to remind us what Christmas is really all about - love, hope, and finding a family in the most unlikely of places.

What can you tell us about the show's history/how you became inspired to write it?

This year is the tenth anniversary of the first performance of Kris Kringle The Musical at the Javits Center in Manhattan as entertainment for Book Expo America, the largest book trade show in North America with attendance of approximately 20,000 people. The show has also been performed at the Page-To Stage Festival in the Kennedy Center (2011); in Cleveland (2015); at the legendary Town Hall in New York City, starring Cathy Rigby, Kim Crosby, Pamela Myers, andAndrew Keenan-Bolger (2017); and at Proctors MainStage, starring Eve Plumb, Rema Webb, and Christopher Shyer (2019).

Having been born on Christmas Day, I just had to write a story called Kris Kringle! The story was first conceived of as a screenplay with lots of magical effects and a lawyer storyline (I'm a lawyer too and love to poke fun at them!), that friends and colleagues loved and encouraged me to adapt for the stage. I thought they were crazy, but they put a bug in my head - as friends often do - and here we are ten years later with a magical and joyful show.

I can say one thing for sure - if you love Christmas, you'll love it even more after watching Kris, and if Christmas has lost some it's luster for you, well you're just gonna love it all over again!

BWW Interview: How KRIS KRINGLE THE MUSICAL Is Spreading Virtual Cheer This Holiday Season

Where are you in the process of creating this new virtual production and what have some of the biggest challenges been?

We are virtually completed (pun intended)! All kidding aside, the biggest challenge was figuring out - after coming to grips with the shock of what has happened this year with the pandemic as we had a totally different plan in mind for 2020 - whether we could do a show at all and how to do it. I'm so lucky to have met so many wonderful people along the way, that I turned to Ben and Jaimie Selke (Jaimie had been our choreographer in 2017 and 2019) to brainstorm what to do. When they mentioned the notion of a Virtual Advent Calendar culminating to a full virtual production, I was hooked and we just went from there.

The wonderful thing about the Virtual Advent Calendar is that it is visually gorgeous and inviting, and also allows us to fill some days with beautiful songs "that got away," such as "That Would Be Joy," "From the Top of the World," and "I Have Dreamed," that audiences may never know about because they are no longer part of the show. Plus we have gotten the chance to do what I've dreamed about for years - a Spanish male vocal version of one of the show's most popular songs, "My North Star." "My North Star" has nearly 3 million Facebook video views worldwide and the a cappella group, Straight No Chasers, who sang at last year's Christmas Tree Lighting in Manhattan, will be performing the Spanish Version. It is truly going to be something magical this year!

How many people are involved in the process?

There are currently probably 40 to 50 people working on the project right now, here, in Canada, and in Europe. Of course they are also building on the work of hundreds of people before them over a ten-year period! It's truly amazing to watch our team this year bring to life the characters that I wrote about on pieces of paper!

What has been the most gratifying part of your experience with this musical so far?

BWW Interview: How KRIS KRINGLE THE MUSICAL Is Spreading Virtual Cheer This Holiday Season

Watching the audience's reaction to the show, hearing them laughing and crying. Sold-out audiences. Standing ovations. Memories of seeing our first Elmer (our Elvis-wannabe Head Elf) jump down off the stage to dance the song "Green Suede Shoes" with an 80-year-old woman in the audience at the Javits Center; walking awestruck into the Kennedy Center with our acting troupe for the very first time; sneaking backstage during rehearsals in Cleveland and spying on our 20 Elf Children helping each other with their make-up and costumes as they sang Kris Kringle songs together; hearing our orchestrations at Carroll Studios for the very first time; meeting the legendary Cathy Rigby during Town Hall rehearsals; hearing Andrew Keenan-Bolger tell the legendary Mary Stout at our 2018 recording sessions for our Studio Cast Recording at the Power Station in New York City, "I love singing with you, Mary," after recording a brilliant version of "Pathway Through"; watching our giant two-story-tall Kris Kringle Storybook open on stage in Proctors; receiving the first draft of our Virtual Advent Calendar this year.

You know, truthfully, I've had so many gratifying experiences and dealt with so many wonderful and talented people that I feel sometimes that I am the luckiest person in the world to have taken this journey over many years. In the end, though, I think this year is going to be the most gratifying of all as our team is so special, dedicated, gifted and, most of all, wanting to give people all over the country and even the world a joyous experience particularly in a year that has been so troubled.

Why do you think Kris Kringle is the perfect way for people to celebrate the holidays this year?

When I wrote the first draft of the musical book so many years ago, I never envisioned what would happen this year, particularly, of course, the pandemic. Having experienced Kris as live theater over the past decade -- which is truly exciting (the very first performance at the Javits Center, a bat was hanging from our stage entrance curtain just minutes before the show began!) -- I would never have thought that a virtual production where each actor is in their own home could work let alone match that experience.

But with the wonders of filming, editing, animation and the dedication of everyone involved, people can have a unique personal theatrical experience right in their own homes this holiday season. I promise that, although the experience this year may be different, and that I can't wait to see people in theaters again, every audience member from age 4 to 100 will feel true joy this holiday season on watching our magical performances and hearing our beautiful music.

And, because we are providing the Advent Calendar Videos and the full-online production for free for everyone, it is something every person can enjoy in a year where economic problems are being experienced by so many.

This holiday season, therefore, our team wants people to enjoy what we have created and to share it with everyone they love. Being a Christmas baby, that is the greatest Christmas-birthday gift I could wish for this holiday season!

BWW Interview: How KRIS KRINGLE THE MUSICAL Is Spreading Virtual Cheer This Holiday Season



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