It’s XOXO AD’s 12 Days of Christmas! To “stuff your stocking” before Santa arrives later in the month, we’re bringing you holiday excerpts each day, from now through December 12. Be sure to check back every day for a heartwarming, ho-ho-holiday treat!
Today’s treat isn’t from a romance novel, but from a memoir! But it’s possibly the most Christmassy of them all–Santa Claus is for Real is the story of Charles Edward Hall, the man who plays Santa in the famous Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular (also featuring the famous Rockettes!).
I didn’t want to be in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. That’s the honest truth.
I wanted to be in a serious Broadway play. I wanted to be a highly respected actor. But in those days, there weren’t so many serious plays on Broadway. The only thing a young actor like me could really count on was musicals. And I hated musicals.
All that singing and dancing. All that smiling and joy. All that…good cheer. Bah, humbug.
But my last show had ended, and I’d been out of work for two years. I didn’t have any more money, and I didn’t have any health insurance. I was eating Cheerios and living in a two-room apartment with nothing but a sleeping bag, a crate for my clothes, and my guitar. So when I heard Bob Yanni, an old friend who had produced Snow White, was looking to hire someone for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, I swallowed my pride.
Besides, this wasn’t just any role I was trying out for. This was the star of the show, the Big Man, the greatest character in the history of Christmas.
That’s right…Ebenezer Scrooge.
Now you probably think of Scrooge as a mean man who hated Christmas. And he was. But he wasn’t evil. In fact, I don’t think he ever wanted to be bad. He just had a hard childhood and a broken heart, and he lost his way. He forgot that being nice is better than being rich. That’s why he becomes good in the end, after the visit from the third ghost, because he had been good all along. He just didn’t know it. He had lost his faith.
So that’s how I auditioned for Scrooge: as a disappointed man who had forgotten how to believe. I muttered, “Humbug on Christmas.” I snarled, “Leave me be.” And at the end, I fell on my knees and cried, “Please, please spirit, give me another chance.”
And do you know what Bob Yanni said?
He said, “That’s fine, Charlie. Thank you.” I thought he was going to pass.
Then he stopped, “You know, the actor playing Scrooge has two parts this year. We’ve written a few scenes for Santa Claus, and I want the same actor to play them both.”
“You know: fat guy, jolly old elf.”
I hadn’t thought of Santa since moving to New York City, but as soon as Mr. Yanni said his name, I remembered that Christmas Eve when I was six years old. I remembered the feeling of wonder and joy.
Of course, Charlie gets the part, and discovers his “inner Santa” along the way. Read the book to find out just how playing Santa has changed his life…and in the meantime, enjoy this Rockettes medley to get you in the spirit!