Regional Reviews: Florida - Southern
Jonathan Van Dyke
Van Dyke's latest work as a writer is Holiday Inc.. His other written works include Totally Electric, the 1960s Zombie spoof The Class of RIP: The Final Prom, the water adventure themed show Splish Bash, and Springs At The Willowbrook Inn which recently premiered at the Rising Action Theatre in Ft. Lauderdale, FLwhere this interview took place.
John Lariviere: How did you come to write Holiday Inc.?
Jonathan Van Dyke: I was in Florida from New York City, directing a show I wrote called Totally Electric, that opened the new Ritz Theatre in Ybor City, when I was approached by Dorene Collier, the owner and Artistic Director of Event Show Productions in Tampa. I started writing scripts for their different corporate events. She thought to produce a new holiday show would be fun. We knew we wanted something new and relevant, but with the warmth of tradition. It sounds easy when you say it like that, but it was about a nine month process. I finished the first draft in the summer of 2009 while I was working at the Broward Stage Door Theatre doing No, No, Nanette. We had a few readings, and about ten versions later we had the script we wanted. The show premiered at Tampa's Friday Morning Musicale in Hyde Park on December 17, 2009.
JL: What was the most challenging part of the process?
JVD: The hardest part, but also the most fun, was drawing the sketches for what the characters would look like and their costumes. As Holiday Inc. has a lot of fantasy in it, we were able to really go all out. The music took some time. We knew we didn't want it to have the expected carols and holiday standards so we have some surprises. The story is that of a disheartened elf named Ivy who is witnessing all of the stress and burdens we can sometimes place on ourselves during the season. The Holiday Inc. Board of Directors are called in for an emergency "hope intervention." The Board of Directors includes the magical North Pole characters that help put on the holidays each year. Their names and attributes are Tinsel Garland: Giving and Receiving; Hearth Tannenbaum: Home and Family; Figgy Von Nog: Food and Merriment; Frankie Feliz: Celebration; and Angel Divine: Faith. They each have some time with Ivy and share what they know, and encourage her to believe again. The music is associated with what each characters representmaking use of pop, disco, Motown, Broadway, and of course some seasonal favorites.
JVD: After we had our first run in 2009, we had such an overwhelming reaction we knew we wanted to keep going with the show. That was the most rewarding partthe enthusiasm! We have added a new producer Douglas C. Evans. He has been behind shows such as Chess, Tommy, and the Off-Broadway Frankenstein The Musical. J. Leblanc is our wonderful set and lighting designer. Meredith McDermott is our Musical Director, with two original songs by composer Michael Rabbe. Dorene Collier, our executive producer, did many of the dance numbers and worked in all creative aspects of the show. So here we are at The Straz Center in Tampa for nine shows. It is a beautiful theatre, and the cast and creative team are in the spirit!
JL: What is your ultimate goal with Holiday Inc.?
JVD: We are working with booker Edwin Rojas of The Rojas Talent Group, and hope to do a tour next year. We also have illustrator Rick Reeves who is working with us on a storybook version of the show. There will always be the Christmas Carols and Nutcrackers, and I guess our ultimate goal is to create something that could become timeless as well. A bit ambitious on our part but that is how you have to think. It has been a very rewarding journey, and we hope we have created a show that will uplift and inspire all year long.
Holiday Inc. ran at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts from December 16 - 22, 2011. The Straz Center for the Performing Arts is located at 1010 N WC MacInnes Place in Tampa, Florida. For future booking information please contact Edwin Rojas of the Rojas Talent Agency by phone at 888-898-0908 or visit www.rojastalentgroup.com.
Holiday Inc. is a production of ESP Theatrical, the newest division of Event Show Productions Inc., which has been in business for more than 20 years. For information on Holiday Inc. you may go to www.holidayinctheshow.com, or contact ESP by phone at 251- 888-8866 or online at esptampa.com/.