At the Topeka Civic Theatre & Academy, the annual “A Christmas Carol: The Musical” has been running since Nov. 25. Each night, the TCTA puts on a dinner and a performance to entertain over 100 people.
There is so much that goes on with putting on shows like this: the director, the making of the dinner, the building of the set and the making of the costumes. However, the history and stories of the actors on stage are sometimes more important than the characters they portray.
On stage, Walt Boyd plays the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, offstage is a different story.
“When I was 10 years old, I was watching late night TV in Albuquerque, N.M.,” said Boyd. “I saw the movie ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and decided I wanted to be an actor.”
Since then, Walt has been acting for 32 years, but has never gotten many good roles. In fact, he really thought his career would “dry up” after reaching the age of 50. On the contrary, his roles just began to blossom, as he picked up several big parts.
These included Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird,” John Barrymore in “I Hate Hamlet,” now Ebenezer Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.”
“I do some musicals, but normally I just do stuff that grabs my attention,” said Boyd. “The music was simply amazing with this show, and it had always been on my A list to do.”
For those who do not know this role, Ebenezer Scrooge starts the play as a terrible excuse for a human being that is only focused on himself. Nevertheless, he is taken through the emotional whirlwind to turn out to be the ideal humanitarian.
“He truly shows the complete joy to the holidays we all seek for during this time of the year,” said Boyd.
With a cast of 50 members, Boyd agrees they all have their different time to shine. According to him, the professionalism is extraordinary for a city this size.
“It has been a marvelous time here with this show,” said Boyd. “I’ve never seen a better quality of show put on in such a community.”
When some say theatre is family entertainment, not many think of the performers on the stage as being a family. They all grow closer together and typically become a “family.” However, this show is special, as there are 11 actual families performing together onstage.
Two of them include the Ramos family, with brothers Jim and Robbie. Jim Ramos played Old Joe and was a part of the ensemble while Robbie Ramos kept the part of Bob Crachit.
“Our mother was the one who started it all,” said Jim Ramos. “We grew up dancing and singing around the house.”
The Ramos adults included four children that all grew up loving theatre. Jim Ramos started when he was 8 years old. Since then, he has never looked back, enjoying 42 years of acting.
Robbie Ramos was a little more tentative growing up. That is why his mother put him in dance class. He never even though about acting until he saw Jim Ramos onstage one time and decided he wanted to join him.
“We actually got to play brothers onstage one time in the late ‘80s,” said Robbie Ramos. “That was pretty interesting.”
Since then, they have grown up, gotten married and had kids and the love of theatre continued through the generation. The two families have starred in many shows as six of Jim Ramos’ kids have been in shows and all three of Robbie Ramos’s kids have been in performances. In “A Christmas Carol: The Musical,”
Not only do these families put on the shows for love of theatre, but also for the bonding time it gives them to be together during the holidays.
“The holidays are always super busy with everything going on,” said Jim Ramos. “This gives us a chance to be together and has grown into a family tradition.”
However, the kids must earn their way onto the stage with their attitudes and their work at school. Both fathers agreed that as soon as the grades slip, the children lose their chance to be in the next year’s play.
“It’s really all about time management,” said Robbie Ramos.
With all of the time together onstage, it built up many memories that would soon be priceless to these two fathers.
“These [memories] mean so much to us that absolutely no one could take them away from us,” said the fathers. “It’s just an amazing time.”