Carol Hall & Larry Grossman's Christmas Memory Musical Gets NYC Reading, With Kay Walbye, Jonathan Rayson

By Kenneth Jones
23 Oct 2011

Jonathan Rayson
Jonathan Rayson

The musical A Christmas Memory, based on the story by Truman Capote and developing quietly in regional theatres, will be seen in a special 45-minute presentation in New York City on Oct. 26.

The 5 PM industry reading anticipates the new Nov. 24-Dec. 24 production by Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, AL. Karen Azenberg directs, with musical direction by Tom Griffin. A Christmas Memory has a book by Duane Poole, music by Larry Grossman and lyrics by Carol Hall.

The New York presentation will feature Kay Walbye as Sook, James Zitelli as Buddy, Jonathan Rayson as Adult Buddy, Carolyn Mignini as Cousin Jennie, Terry Burrell as Anna Stabler, Sarah Rosenthal as Nelle Harper and Bill Bateman as Cousin Seabon/Haha Jones/Farley Wood.

The ASF production, also directed by Azenberg, will feature the same cast as the New York presentation, except Katie Cobb and Lizzie Woodall will alternate in the role of Nelle Harper, and Rodney Clark plays Cousin Seabon/Haha Jones/Farley Wood. Orchestrations are by Steve Orich.



Jayson Raitt, who is attached as the show's commercial producer along with Brannon Wiles, told Playbill.com, "Duane Poole wrote a wonderful television version of 'A Christmas Memory' in the late 1990s, starring Patty Duke and Piper Laurie. When he approached me about helping to put together an adaptation of his teleplay as a stage musical, I immediately saw the potential in developing a small show — just seven actors — for all those regional theatres looking for a companion or alternative to A Christmas Carol…or even those theatres willing to do a 'Christmas-in-July' show…"

According to production notes, A Christmas Memory "is the heartwarming tale of a unique and unforgettable bond, of hearts broken and mended, of a friendship for the ages." It's set in a small Southern town in the 1930s and "follows the comic adventures of two misfit cousins who make the most of what may be their last holiday together. This evocative musical memoir celebrates the simple pleasures of life and the joy of giving — a festive, emotional story that reminds us what Christmas and family and friendship are all about."

A Christmas Memory, the musical, premiered at TheatreWorks in Palo Alto, CA, in December 2010. Penny Fuller starred. TheatreWorks helped develop the show through two workshops, as did the Human Race Theatre in Dayton, OH, which hosted the writers for a retreat and reading.

Industry people may contact producer Jayson Raitt at jaysonraitt@yahoo.com.