The Fame Reporter interviewed Co Director of Shake & Stir Theatre Co, Nick Stubij starring in the company’s adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic piece ‘A Christmas Carol’ – playing from 16 to 24 December 2020 at Lyric Theatre, QPAC.
This December, the award-winning stage spectacle – Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol – returns to lift your spirits. Brimful of song, humour, love, and lashings of festive joy, A Christmas Carol is a magical, grand-in-scale production – perfect for the entire family.
It’s Christmas Eve and Ebenezer Scrooge is counting down the seconds until the silliness of the season passes. Deeply entrenched in his own misery, Scrooge receives a visit from four ghosts who whisk him away on a journey through Christmases past, present and future. Here, he revisits fragments of his life and is faced with a number of choices. Redemption is his for the taking – but is Old Scrooge capable of changing his ways before it’s too late?
We talked to Nick about Shake & Stir’s ‘A Christmas Carol’, the most exciting aspect of returning to theatre, how teaching younger generations inspires how they grow as a theatre company and more.
See our interview below!
Welcome to The Fame Reporter Nick, for you what is the most exciting aspect of returning to the theatre and re-opening the Lyric Theatre, QPAC with Shake & Stir’s ‘A Christmas Carol’?
Look, just getting back into any theatre in any way shape or form would be exciting after this year – but to be reopening the Lyric Theatre after a long period of closure is icing on the (Christmas) cake.
This show is full of uplifting themes, beautiful imagery and a great chance for audiences of all ages to re-engage – not just with theatre, but with their families, friends and community.
What do you love about Shake & Stir’s adapted version of ‘A Christmas Carol’ in particular?
I love the way that we have very much maintained the essence of the original novel but at the same time, made the story feel very fresh and now. We haven’t shied away from the darkness of the story – and the production values are pretty amazing – the world of Dickens’ London will come to vivid life in the middle of a sweltering Brisbane summer in 2020.
What inspires you and the Shake & Stir team and keeps you creative during this difficult period that the arts industry is going through?
I’m very motivated to do anything I can to contribute to the return of shows to the theatre and to give audiences a good reason to re-engage with the live arts. I’ve been so inspired by the stories from those in the creative industry across the country (and globally) during the past 8 months, the pivots, the plans and the perseverance has all been tremendous.
I am proud of Queensland to be in a situation where venues can once again operate at capacity. I am inspired by our audience – young students right through to our older patrons. I am inspired by the tribe of people that support and follow shake & stir, on and off stage – my family, friends and colleagues. I am inspired by our entire company of artists – cast, crew, creative and management – who are working their very hardest to provide ‘A Christmas Carol’ audiences with an exceptional return to the theatre, this December.
How has the rehearsal process been during this time?
We are fortunate to have the entire original cast returning for the 3rd consecutive year – so it part rehearsals, part family reunion. We have 3 additional cast members joining the production in 2020 – so there will be a mixture of the familiar with the added excitement of seeing 3 wonderful new actors experience the magic of the show for the first time.
What 3 performers dead or alive would you love to have a dinner party with?
I don’t mean to brag, but I am fortunate to have many dinner parties with many performers I admire. The list is endless ;). But those who remain a pipe dream:
Phillip Seymour Hoffman – what a talent he was.
Jennifer Saunders – to pick her brain and try to pin point how she can possibly be as clever and funny as she is
Bette Midler – to sing The Rose with her. We’ll have some martinis, I murder the harmony and she belts out that melody in the way that only she can.
What do you love about the Queensland theatre community in particular?
There is a very collaborative and democratic way of making, presenting and consuming theatre, here – I love it. There is not really a hierarchy like you see in other cities/countries – there is a fantastic and healthy mixture of funded, independent and commercial producers/companies, each doing work of varying scale and kicking serious goals. Little ole Queensland?! More like big bold Queensland!
Shake & Stir delights in creating and participating in various educational programs, performances and masterclasses for students throughout the year, how does teaching younger generations about the arts and theatre inspire or inform how you grow as a theatre company and as people?
We’ve been creating theatre for young people since 2006 and every day we are still learning so much from them. It truly is the biggest joy for me to either visit a school and sit an audience of students or a theatre full of families and experience them experiencing a shake & stir show. It’s surreal and very uplifting.
Our young audiences are curious, demanding, open and inquisitive. Despite the fact that these generations grew up with a much wider choice of entertainment options – iPads loaded with Netflix, at the ready – they are still really excited to sit and watch live theatre. That is cool.
It’s then our job to make sure that they love what they are watching – so they want to come back – again and again. With that in mind – we always have them in mind when creating theatre – are programming has aged with our audiences too, over the years – we try really hard to give all the youngins that jumped on board with us back at the beginning have more mature productions that they can watch – whilst still producing the next childrens/family show to appease the next generation of young theatre goers.
What future Shake & Stir upcoming projects can you tell us about?
A lot of our plans for 2021/2022 have been effected by what’s happened in the world this year – so we are taking it slowly next year, with announcing and producing work and tours. It is safe to say however, that the year will still be as busy as any other #shaketouring year – just different. Our in-school seasons will tour Queensland far and wide – in fact going more regional (for longer) than ever before – which is very exciting.
We have a few national theatres tours that we are very keen to make happen in 2021, plus 4 productions at QPAC. Watch this space.
Why do you think audiences are thrilled to have the opportunity to experience ‘A Christmas Carol’ and what is the best way we can support the arts industry at this time?
The concept behind bringing this show back each December was to create a sense of anticipation for Christmas and comforting tradition for Brisbane audiences. I love watching Home Alone and Christmas Vacation, on repeat, every single December – and I have since I was a kid. It literally makes me feel like I’m 8, back in Cairns – with Mum and Dad- it feels me with warmth, love and that buzzing sense of pre-Christmas joy.
That nostalgia is what we want audiences to feel – with the added benefit and sense of occasion that comes with dressing up and going out to the theatre.
The best way audiences can support theatre during this recovery period is to get out there and buy tickets to see their favorite companies and artist. In keeping with the themes of the production, we passionately support a number of charities – last year, we raised over $20000 for the Red Cross.
This year, we are proud to partner exclusively with the Actors and Entertainers Benevolent Fund and aim to raise much needed funds for those artists who have seen 2020 decimate their entire income. Audiences can donate even $2 to this fantastic cause and cumulatively, the affect can be life changing.
Fame Reporter Word Play
Shake & Stir
Favourite mantra when you are down
There’s a reason Jesus turned water into wine and not the other way around
Come From Away
A Christmas Carol
Kamala Harris and Harry Styles
Can’t live without
TV Show Binge
Right now too busy for TV, but Schitts Creek got me through lockdown!
Favourite Christmas Tradition
A Christmas Carol, of course!
Thank-you Nick for joining us at The Fame Reporter and best of luck with ‘A Christmas Carol’ at QPAC this December!
All photos – Supplied