It was a frosty, subzero night last Friday, when a little over two weeks after
, crew and cast of the Santa Fe Playhouse’s production of A Christmas Carol mustered up a special, opening night tribute.
Outside the theater, Gerrity's name is still proudly emblazoned in the production's one-sheet, and inside, a portrait featuring the distinguished member of the local theater milieu striking his signature smile welcomed the 30 or so attendees.
Moments before the maiden performance, Playhouse board president Joyce Blalock took the stage.
"Thank you, theater lovers, for being here—and you do have to be a theater lover to be out tonight," Blalock said. She took the opportunity to commend the also news director at KSFR for his multiple contributions to the performance art scene and cited this version of the seasonal play as one that "he particularly wanted to bring to us."
"Because of his sudden death— which was a blow to everyone— the cast made the decision, with the staff, that they wanted to go forward," Blalock continued.
Playhouse secretary Kelly Huertas also remembered the fallen director and lauded the cast and crew, saying they came together "like none other" to "complete the journey Dan begun and keep his vision intact."
A minimalistic and comedic play-within-a-play, Doris Baizley's adaptation of the Charles Dickens classic, Huertas said, harkened back to Gerrity's days at the famed Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles during the late '70s. She called it "a testament to his immense talent and comic timing—but I think the best part is [the play] is a tribute to his favorite time of the year."
Gerrity's partner Thomas Mason completed the eulogy.
"I feel the love here tonight for Dan," Mason said. He then thanked the Santa Fe community for "the great outpouring of love and appreciation for Dan's many gifts."
Mason recalled Gerrity's warm smile and "authoritative voice," making those in the audience who knew him chuckle.
"It's hard to know how many of you saw it, but what resided in Dan all his days was the joy of a playful, naughty, exuberant and sensitive little boy alive with Christmas," Mason said. "In some small measure, tonight's performance of A Christmas Carol contains that spark that lit Dan up for everything theater."
Hearts broken and makeup flaking, the nine-person cast appeared onstage and, adhering to theater lore, the show went on.
Jerry Ferraccio, coordinator at the Santa Fe Shakespeare Society, masterfully breathes life into stone-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge by way of a second role, that of stage manager on a roving production of Carol. "Prop boy" Matthew Montoya doubles up as Tiny Tim, and every other cast member embodies a minimum of two and up to five roles.
A timeless tale of greed and ultimate redemption, the spirited story is illustrated with the help of a lone, oversized and multipurpose Louis Vuitton trunk that provides the staging's main set, and is aided by spot-on performances that carry with them the passion and precision that Gerrity was known for.
Come the play's end, Ferraccio broke down in part because of the role, in part because of the underlying circumstances, and gave new depth to the steadfast character.
"Nearly everyone in the cast has taken at least a line, a movement, a hand bell or a set change that was originally Dan's," the production's program reads. "Ultimately, it takes the entire cast to make up for Dan's energy…in this way, everyone shares his spirit, too."
"He brought it almost all the way there," Playhouse board member Eliot Gray Fisher tells SFR after the performance. "You can see it's very well-timed and choreographed and that's so much a part of who he was—working as hard as you can to get it as tight and good as you can get it. That's what he did every year with Benchwarmers."
Sitting next to him, Huertas, who served with Gerrity on the board for three years, gives credit to the play's ensemble members who took on smaller roles that he was set to play.
"Each one took on an extra hand bell or a piece of blocking and Campbell Martin took on a tremendous amount of the lines," Huertas says. "It works. I'm so impressed with what these guys did; it just blows my mind. You talk about 'community theater,' well that's it, right there."
Email the author: email@example.com
A CHRISTMAS CAROL
7:30 Thursdays-Saturdays; 4 pm Sundays.
Through Dec. 22. $15-$20.
Santa Fe Playhouse, 142 E De Vargas St.,