NRHS graduate has starring role in NSMT’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

Dec 6, 2018 by

Published December 6, 2018

By GAIL LOWE

NORTH READING — The curtain at North Shore Music Theatre went up this week when “A Christmas Carol” was performed for the first time this season for school children on Wednesday, December 5. These children had the pleasure of seeing the town’s own Andrew Tighe (pronounced “tie”) in the lead role of “Fred,” Ebenezer Scrooge’s optimistic nephew.

Slipping into a Victorian role might be difficult for some, but for Tighe it comes naturally because he says he has always been a lover of poetry, heightened text, Shakespeare, the Dickens novels and anything else from that era.

“Period pieces, especially in England in the 18th and 19th centuries, are my favorites,” he said, adding that he enjoys sinking his teeth into gorgeous text, such as what Dickens wrote.

“The thing I love most about NSMT’s adaptation of ‘A Christmas Carol’ is its reliance on the original text from Dickens’s novella. It is so expertly written, and all the details are there.”

“A Christmas Carol” is one of the first shows I ever saw (as a child),” said Tighe. “It definitely played a huge role in igniting a spark inside me to be on stage. So, it’s a tremendous honor to be a part of this specific production. It feels very full circle.”

Tighe’s family members, including his now deceased grandfather Alfred Russell, were always arts and music focused, so it came as no surprise that their passion filtered down to at least one of the children. His grandfather, in particular, was passionate about introducing the arts into his grandchildren’s lives.

ANDREW TIGHE, at right, a 2011 NRHS graduate and now of New York City, is playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew “Fred” in “A Christmas Carol” at North Shore Music Theatre. The show opens  Friday, Dec. 7. (Paul Lyden Photo)

“He would take us to see shows all the time in Boston and New York City,” Tighe said. “And to have NSMT right down the street was, and still is, such a gift.”

David Coffee is only a few years away from his 30th anniversary of playing the old skinflint at NSMT. While growing up, Tighe’s family would make a point of seeing the show every year, so Coffee has always been the “ultimate Scrooge” of Tighe’s childhood.

“Now, to stand side by side with him and to work with him is beyond amazing,” he said. “I learned from him at age 5, and I learn from him now.” Tighe added that working with Coffee is truly a master class in acting.

“It is surreal to enter Scrooge’s counting house every performance and to have him look me right in the eye. It gives me chills every time,” said the young actor. “It’s been one of the great thrills of my career.”

Tighe’s professional life got its start following graduation from North Reading High School, Class of 2011. After completing the drama program Masquers, run by Allison Kane, he went to the Boston Conservatory of Music where he earned a bachelor of fine arts degree in musical theater with an emphasis on acting. Directly after college, he moved to the “Big Apple” where he has been a resident for the past three-and-a-half years.

Tighe joined the company of “A Christmas Carol” in 2015 and played the role of Young Scrooge and the Ghost of Christmas Future. He said playing “Fred” had been a “dream role” since he was a small child. For two years now, he has played the role and enjoyed every minute, as it “fits him like a glove.”

“Getting to see different sides to this story and to this production is an absolute thrill,” he said. “Being a part of a long running show like ‘A Christmas Carol’ gives you opportunities to grow into and out of other roles.”

About the character he will play, Tighe most admires Fred’s passion for life and love and his pursuit of the silver lining in any situation.

“It’s about finding the joy,” Tighe commented. “Fred’s life has not always been a happy one. Any other person in this world who had an uncle like Scrooge would never think to include him in their lives. Yet, year after year, Fred gives him a chance. He has an immense strength and confidence in man’s ability to love and forgive. It’s something I strive for.”

In that regard, Fred and Tighe are quite similar, he said. Of all the roles he has played, Fred is the closest to him as a person.

“He loves life, his family and he loves the Christmas spirit,” Tighe said. “We both think of it as a time to really appreciate what you have and consider it a responsibility to give back in whatever way you can,” said Tighe. “Life isn’t easy, but being kind and holding the ones you love close makes it easier. Fred embodies that. Checking in with this character every year has been incredibly cathartic to me.”

As an addendum, Tighe said that “A Christmas Carol” is one of his favorite stories and believes it is one of the world’s best because it goes beyond the actual holiday of Christmas.

“Any person from any background can be moved by this story,” he said. “It simply tells the world that redemption is possible, that finding the light in us all is essential and just to love one another.”

In response to a question about working at NSMT, Tighe calls it a “special place” where actors are treated incredibly well.

“It’s better than any theater I’ve ever worked in around the country,” he said. “There’s a sense of community and passion for the work that I really connect with. And performing in the round is such a fun, unique way to tell a story.”

Tighe continued, saying that working on NSMT’s stage creates a sense of immediacy and intimacy that regular proscenium theaters lack.

“It’s just like telling a story around a campfire,” he said. “You can really feel the energy of the audience. It’s very special.”

Tighe said he owes his career to his family and teachers. Without their trust, discipline and support he would not be where he is today.

“My family has never doubted my path with this crazy career,” he said. “And that is something I’m very grateful for because it isn’t easy. My acting and music teachers saw enough potential in me to demand nothing but the best while giving me the space and support to try and fail and try again.”

He said he would be remiss not to mention Allison Kane, his high school drama teacher who pushed him and fostered his talents more than anyone else.

“She taught me how to be a professional, to do the work and to show up and try my best,” he said, adding that he is grateful for the education and support he has been given over the years.

As for the future, Tighe has a few things in the works for 2019 but is not at liberty to reveal them just yet. “It’s sure to be a fantastic year,” he said. “I’m very excited and maybe I’ll get to spend some time with Fred once again. It would be my honor.”

Meanwhile, if the theater wants him back as Fred — or any other character — and he is not involved in any other productions that would prevent him from returning, he would be honored and thrilled to return.

Tickets and toy drive

Throughout the run of A Christmas Carol, which officially opens Friday night, December 7, NSMT will be collecting toys in the lobby for Tiny Tim’s Toy Drive. Unopened, unwrapped toys for boys and girls ages 2 – 12 will be donated to Toys for Tots.

Tickets for A Christmas Carol, are priced from $64 to $79 – all tickets for children 18 and under are $35. Children under age 4 are not admitted to this show, including babes in arms. Performances are December 7 – December 23. (Evening shows December 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 20, 21, and 22 at 7:30 p.m.; Matinees December 8, 9, 15, 16, and 22 at 2 p.m.). Tickets can be purchased by calling the North Shore Music Theatre Box Office at (978) 232-7200, via the website at www.nsmt.org or in person at 62 Dunham Road (Route 128, exit 19), Beverly.

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