Garner Cleveland Record

Garner High grad doing big things in theater

Jonathan Rand wanted to be in “A Christmas Carol” because he loves the theater and he wanted to be involved with something big. Really big.

“A Christmas Carol” fills the bill. The Ira David Wood, III-produced play has been performed around the world and has played to full houses in Raleigh for 41 years.

The cast is huge, the set massive and the retelling of Charles Dickens’ Christmas ghost story has become as much of a part of Christmas for some folks as hanging greenery and erecting a tree.

But Rand never expected the intimacy of the show to affect him as much as it has.

The exhilaration of the final show on Sunday at 2 p.m., at the Durham Performing Arts Center is tempered by the knowledge that this is the final show this year.

“I thought it would be wonderful when I auditioned,” said Rand, a Garner native and the youth minister at Garner United Methodist Church. “It has been and it has been so much more.”

Sold out crowds at Memorial Auditorium and the Durham Performing Arts Center are exciting, Rand said, but the best memories are the small things – a quiet conversation, watching the cast meld together, experiencing the creative process of Wood reworking the show each year, seeing the veterans mesh with the newbies, the term the cast uses for first-year performers.

“You are with these people for such a short time, but you learn that they never really leave you,” Rand said. “We experience something together and become a family.”

Rand was involved in the drama program at Garner Magnet High and was the lead in a GUMC production of “Godspell” that still is raved about.

He has been in other area church productions and had a major role in last year’s production of “War At Your Door,” a musical drama about the Garner community during the Civil War.

But he was thinking big when he auditioned for “A Christmas Carol” three years ago. He was thrilled when he was cast as a member of the ensemble, the people who fill the stage as often unnamed townspeople.

He auditioned for the show again in September, singing “Corner of the Sky” from the musical “Pippin.”

He was stunned when he learned he had been cast in a major role as the Ghost of Christmas Future.

He has featured songs and is involved the the play’s climatic moment.

“I don’t think you need a ‘spoiler alert’ for ‘A Christmas Carol,’ but you can say that if things do work out, I’m a part of Scrooge getting the Christmas spirit,” Rand said.

This year would have been special to him even if he hadn’t landed the role.

Joining him in the cast this year is his younger brother Parker, another Garner Magnet product.

“Sharing this with him has really been a joy,” Jonathan Rand said.

Tim Stevens:

A Christmas Carol

What: The 41st annual retelling of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” starring Ira David Wood III

When: Dec. 17, 18 and 19 at 7 p.m.; Dec. 19 and 20 at 2 p.m.

Where: Durham Performing Arts Center, 123 Vivian Street, Durham, NC. 919-680-2787

Tickets: $30.95 to $95.45