More than ten years ago, our late amazing publicist, Anne Abrams, introduced us to Brian Copeland and got me on his weekly radio show to promote our plays. She also encouraged us to take a look at a new solo show he was developing, The Jewelry Box . It was impossible not to recognize it as the natural holiday classic that it is, but at that point, we were dedicated to presenting large cast musicals during the holiday season like Mary Poppins, A Christmas Story, and Groundhog Day The Musical. But when the pandemic turned the world upside down and casts of sixteen with a six-piece band became unrealistic, our thoughts returned to The Jewelry Box.
Fortunately, when it comes to the universal holiday themes of hope, redemption and family, A Christmas Story has nothing on The Jewelry Box, Brian’s tale of his six-year-old-self on a quest to buy his mother a present. It is a heart-warming story of pluck, determination and ingenuity with which we all can instinctively identify. It takes us into an Oakland neighborhood where bars on the windows of the house next door make the young Brian scratch his head and reflect that he thought “bars were for keeping the criminals inside.”
This particular Christmas yarn revolves around an American family, the mother and the grandmother struggling to make ends meet while making sure there is a tree with lights, gingerbread, and an advent calendar made of red and green construction paper rings. The kids tear a ring off every day until the fateful eve. It is a thrill to bring this story to our Empathy Gym, a story so embedded in the experience of a writer/performer who opens his own life and heart for us and that resonates so universally to everyone.
If being invited into the world of The Jewelry Box wasn’t joyful enough, we are treated to the virtuosic tour de force of Brian as an actor, playing (let me count them) seventeen different roles — men, women, boys, girls — with equal skill. We’re also thrilled to announce that Brian is currently under commission to write a new play for us. A departure from his decades of solo efforts, this new work will have separate actors playing all the roles he has previously played himself. We can hardly wait!
– Artistic Director