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FPAC Looks Back on an Innovative 2020 Holiday Season

FRANKLIN- Like all of the theatrical community, the Franklin Performing Arts Company (FPAC) and their home venue THE BLACK BOX have had to find creative ways to keep the arts alive throughout the pandemic. The holiday season, the time of year that is typically the most saturated with FPAC performances, was delivered in a whole new way.

The 2020 Holiday Season was kicked off by the film premiere of Christophe Rice’s The Tappy Christmas Special: LIVE! Filmed in front of a LIVE studio audience at THE BLACK BOX in December 2019, this one-of-a-kind Christmas Special was jam packed with more than 15 holiday favorites and of course, great tap dancing. Audiences rocked out to the live orchestra while being serenaded by Broadway performers Rice, Clay Thomson (Newsies, Matilda, King Kong), Liz Byrne (Baby It's You!), the adorable Tappy kids, and even a visitor from the North Pole. The Tappy Christmas Special: LIVE! was filmed and edited by FPAC partner Franklin TV.

The magic continued with Broadway star Michael James Scott performing an album release concert for his new album ”A Fierce Christmas” live-streamed from THE BLACK BOX.  The Aladdin star gave new life to classic holiday tunes by showing off his gospel and Broadway roots. 

FPAC got creative and presented The Nutcracker- Masked live streamed from THE BLACK BOX. The classic holiday ballet was presented with a small cast of Ballet Conservatory dancers from the Franklin School for the Performing Arts all in masks and socially-distanced, with narration, live at THE BLACK BOX to a virtual audience at home.  Under the direction of Cheryl Madeux, former dancer with American Ballet Theatre, the Franklin Performing Arts Company found a safe way to present this holiday tradition for the region and beyond. The masked production featured Merrie Whitney’s stunning costume design accompanied by facial coverings. The production continued FPAC’s collaboration with Franklin TV.

FPAC’s innovative Holiday Season concluded with Winter Wonderland. Patrons were invited to wear a holiday mask, bundle up, and come to THE BLACK BOX Parking Lot Theater for a socially distanced experience filled with live holiday music, dance, and fun.  FPAC’s festive Winter Wonderland featured delicious treats and a last-minute Stocking Stuffer Boutique.  Families enjoyed outdoor performances by favorite FPAC entertainers and special Broadway guest stars.

Throughout the pandemic, FPAC has continued to provide entertainment in a safe way. From the middle of March through May, FPAC presented a nightly concert series on Facebook Live featuring performances by Broadway stars and FPAC professional performers. As soon as it was allowed, THE BLACK BOX began presenting socially-distanced entertainment outside on their parking lot stage throughout the summer and falI including viral sensation T.3 and a concert featuring the music of Wicked starring Broadway “Elphaba” Emily Koch. In October, FPAC finished the run of their first socially-distanced book musical You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown. In November, FPAC hosted a wildly successful Virtual Gala and Telethon featuring 6 Broadway stars. 

FPAC Director Raye Lynn Mercer comments, “The arts community, locally and globally, has been significantly impacted, yet artists have been the first to share their talents with the world in any way possible.  It is the hope of the FPAC Board of DIrectors that the Metro-West community will reciprocate when venues open and performers are able to go back to work.  Unlike large venues that are supported by endowments and major donors, smaller organizations like FPAC and smaller venues like THE BLACK BOX, will face an enormous financial challenge on the other side of this crisis.” Currently, all are invited to join an FPAC Annual Circle in support of the company and THE BLACK BOX. For more information, visit www.THEBLACKBOXonline.com or www.FPAConline.com


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