By: David Grindle, Executive Director

It’s the most wonderful time of the year!!!!!!!

Unless you are in performance No. 25 of 60 A Christmas Carols. For that person, they might feel that the run will NEVER end. And it might not be A Christmas Carol. It might be Nutcracker, Elf, Santaland Diaries, or Silent Night. Chances are each of us has a holiday show that we love and one we hope never to hear the words or music to ever again.


For so many people in this world, those holiday shows bring positive memories. They go with their children because their parents took them. They take that show and make a connection to their childhood that is likely more Currier and Ives than reality, but nonetheless, they go. And they go because we, the people on stage, backstage, and in shops that are never seen, create magic.

For many live performance companies, the holiday show is the cash flow that keeps companies alive. Without the Nutcracker cash, many dance companies wouldn’t make it. Without A Christmas Carol, there would be fewer new plays. And without these, there would be fewer new audience members.

These shows can be a gateway to get new people into the venue and then potentially return. I don’t have an illusion that one brilliant Santaland Diaries will bring the whole house back for a night of Ibsen, but I do know that people will try things if they are familiar with the story or at least think they are.

I have to remind myself that just because Dance of the SugarPlum Fairy still gives me an emotional rash, I’m likely in the minority — and so are most of us. Sure many who are reading this love their annual holiday shows. But for many, they are a way to a means. But they deserve our best effort no less. And that is what I’m most happy to see whenever I go to a performance. I see people who are doing their job to the best of their professionalism and that’s what makes us all important in people’s lives when they don’t even realize it.

I once read an article written by the head of operations at Heathrow Airport for Qantas Airlines. He was asked what made the challenge of the job worth it. And he noted that while their team pushed back multiple flights every day, on each of those flights was someone who had saved their money to make that trip happen and it had been circled on their calendar with great anticipation. And they deserved the best experience the team could muster.

That’s how I feel about the long runs of holiday shows. Those days have been circled on calendars for months, and it might be one of 60 for the people onstage, but it is the only one for the audience. I’m reminded of that each time I speak with the professionals of all ages that make up this Institute. Because of you, people’s lives are a little better because they’ve experienced live performance. And for that I am thankful to call you all my colleagues.