A Christmas Carol Music Q&A with Robert Oriol
By A Noise Within
November 15, 2021
The beloved holiday tradition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol returns to A Noise Within for its 9th season this December. However, for this year’s production, the award-winning theatre composer and ANW Resident Artist Robert Oriol (he/him/his) has put his magical touch on the show by adding all-new music that will fill your heart with joy. Read more below.
What was the impetus to create all-new music for a long running (and popular) show like ANW’s A Christmas Carol? How has this process challenged you?
It started that I was just going to do sound design because it was never fully completed. There were segments in the show where there wasn’t any sound. Then after working with Geoff and Julia for so long, it seemed like it would be nice to redo the music to make it more contemporary.
Because of Covid, I had the luxury of not being rushed like usual. Often it’s a mad dash to get the music ready in time for tech, but I had a year of downtime. I was able to look at archival videos to score the whole play. I scored it to the 2015 production and then got a hold of the 2018 production, and everything still lined up.
Is there any music that you kept from the previous version on the show, or will the audience experience something totally different musically?
None of the original music is in the production, everything is redone. Where there were songs before, there are new songs in the same place. In the original version, we repeated the same song three times, but this time we are doing three different songs that fit the scenes better.
What does the audience have to look forward to with your new music score?
More immersive. More sound. Before, the sound design felt like an afterthought with nothing supporting the action onstage for some scenes. There will be a lot more sound overall. It’s a different set of songs that you’ll get to know over the next few years.
What was your favorite scene to compose music for?
Probably the scene where we repeated the song the second time in the original. It’s a transition where Scrooge is doing a costume change while the whole chorus comes out. What I’ve written for this new music score sounds like an old Christmas carol with handbells – the kind of song you would have heard in Dickensian time when carolers came up to your door. I’m looking forward to starting the process with the actors and the music director for rehearsals.
And since we’re talking about A Christmas Carol, we have to ask… What’s a favorite holiday tradition of yours?
Setting up the tree – although this year it’s a fake tree. We’re caving into family pressure and going fake, but it’s a good fake! It’s definitely easier this time.