Sunday, December 23, features the last two performances this year of “A Carol for Cleveland” at the Cleveland Play House. I’ve been thrilled with the new appearance of all 27 books I’ve written, but I’ve never been quite so jazzed as seeing one of them adapted so brilliantly by playwright Eric Coble and having its world premiere at the oldest professional repertory theater company in the United States. I’ve seen it many times. now (not counting rehearsals)—from a private box with my 4 year old grandson Parker (who didn’t make a sound), from the second row center, from the back row of the orchestra, from over on the right side—and it overwhelms me anew each time. That’s how good I think it is—and I take very little credit for its BEING that good.
And each time I cry at the end. Yeah, I know–I’m supposed to be a hardboiled type who only cries when the Browns lose. But what the gifted Eric Coble added to my 32-page story to make it an entire evening’s entertainment, and the twist at the last moment that STILL takes me by surprise every time, really grabs me by the heart. The Play House has advertised this show as “BY Clevelanders, FOR Clevelanders, and ABOUT Clevelanders.” Those of you who love this city like Eric and I do will resonate at what’s up there on stage.
So as we say goodbye to “A Carol” for this Christmas, 2012, I want to seize this opportunity to thank everyone. To Michael Bloom, Artistic Director of the Play House, for getting the idea to do this play (actually it was his wife’s suggestion, and bless her for that!), and who put it together so creatively and saw it through. To Laura Kepley, the director, who made every single moment shine, whether you laughed or cried or were startled, and found depths in the story I didn’t even know existed. To a wonderful cast—every one of them are absolutely terrific—who make my words, written 21 years ago, spring to vital life in front of me.
And a special thanks to Eric Coble. We’re often asked how it was “working together.” The answer is, we DIDN’T. I knew Eric would have to enhance the story in many different ways, and I chose to step back and let him do it. (I couldn’t imagine peering over his shoulder as he tried to write, and I sure wouldn’t ever let anyone peer over MINE.) He accomplished it more wonderfully than I ever could have imagined. This is HIS play; words I wrote pop up a lot, and I get a charge out of hearing them from great actors. But it was Eric Coble who built a bittersweet, tough-tender palace of good feeling on the foundation I laid.
Thanks, too, to all of you who came down to the Play House to see a performance. (Isn’t the Allen Theater beautiful? And there isn’t a bad seat in the house, either.) So MANY of my friends have enjoyed it, and emailed or messaged or called me to say how much they loved the play. I hope you all laughed, I hope you cheered, I hope you had a good time—and I hoped you shed a happy tear or two at the end. I have done so already—and I’ll definitely do it again at the last performance on 12/23—and not just because the end is emotionally touching. I’m going to miss this experience more than I realized. Its creation and production is the best Christmas present I ever received.