A Key West Christmas Carol!
BY MAGGIE KLEIN
KONKLIFE STAFF WRITER
Many physical, hands-on, in person creative practices suffered greatly due to the global pandemic. After finally regaining a sense of normalcy, thanks in part to the COVID-19 vaccine, some of these practices are able to return, somewhat, to running again. J.B. McLendon, an actor, singer, director and stage manager, is among those that are thrilled to finally return to his passion.
McLendon got his BFA in Musical Theatre from Syracuse University, and ever since, has been exercising his creativity and passion within the theater realm. He spent 16 years in New York City after graduating from college, and during that time was able to act, direct, write, and stage manage. He then moved to Key West in 2007, and resided here for ten years. Key West audiences best know him as an actor, thanks to his performances at the Key West Theater.
While in Key West, McLendon was shocked to learn that nobody had ever done a production of A Christmas Carol. It was especially surprising to him, since growing up in Maryland, his local theater presented A Christmas Carol in the 80’s. Tickets for this show would sell within a day, and it ran for 20 years. McLendon was motivated by Key West’s lack of Christmas shows, and knew what he had to do.
McLendon pitched his idea for a modern twist on A Christmas Carol, a rendering of the original story set in present day, located in Key West. The company he pitched the idea to loved it and proposed that he come to work on, and develop his concept, within August and September. McLendon accepted the opportunity. He assembled some of the Key West actors that he trusted and admired, and the work was underway. They meet weekly to do in-person readings and further develop the play. McLendon states, “Before we did the first read, I sent the script out digitally to everyone so they could read before we sat down to physically read it. So the fact that everybody had 48 hours to look at it and everybody still showed up to read it and return each week is so amazing.” The team he works with is just as passionate about the project as he is, and the dedication proves to be valuable for the creative process.
McLendon describes the unique twist to the classic Christmas story, and explains that there is a lot of history in the show, as well as a lot of inside jokes that Key West locals will appreciate. McLendon and his team are hopeful that the state of the world will be better by 2022, and states, “When we put this up in Christmas of 2022, we have something to look forward to, and hopefully by then COVID-19 will go away, and we will be able to experience this after all of the work we’re putting in.”
Amy Engelhardt is the composer of the music to be featured in the show. She is well known for the music she wrote for a production of Bastard Jones, and the team is thrilled to have her as a part of the performance. More information about Engelhardt can be found at her website, AmyEngelhardt.com.[livemarket market_name="KONK Life LiveMarket" limit=3 category=“” show_signup=0 show_more=0]