Known for her work with Williams Street Repertory, the professional in-house theater company for the Raue Center for the Arts in Crystal Lake, Michele Vazquez can be seen on the Chicago stage in “A Christmas Carol.”
An ensemble member of Williams Street and the marketing manager for the Raue, Vazquez stars as Mrs. Cratchit in the holiday classic, running through Dec. 31 at the Goodman Theatre, 170 N. Dearborn St., Chicago.
It’s a role she never expected to play.
“I had zero hope of booking this job,” said Vazquez of Crystal Lake. “I just wanted to put in a good showing and meet the director [Henry Wishcamper].”
She auditioned and, to her surprise, heard the next day she’d landed the role.
Having only moved to Crystal Lake from New York about three years ago, the role is one of several acting jobs she said she’s been fortunate enough to take on, including appearances in three national commercials for Exxon Mobil, Baybel cheese and a pharmaceutical company.
At the Raue, she’s starred in Williams Street Repertory productions, including “A Streetcar Named Desire” and “Any Other Name,” and she directed last summer’s “Art,” which was part of an inaugural TheatreFEST at the center.
Performing eight or nine shows a week, she said her latest project has been somewhat grueling, but, “I couldn’t have asked for a better performing experience.”
“A Christmas Carol” actually was her first professional job years ago when she played Ebenezer Scrooge’s sister for a production in North Carolina.
With its diverse cast, the Chicago production seems more poignant than ever, she said, and carries a greater sense of weight than before.
“With times being what they are, I think the message of the show really resonates in a new way,” she said.
She said she’s enjoyed seeing such a wide range of faces in the audience, especially the younger audiences brought to student matinees.
For many of them, it’s their first theatrical experience, she said, and they’re able to see people on stage they can relate to.
At the end of the production, the cast and the audience stand to sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” together.
“Everyone is feeling a tremendous sense of family and coming together,” she said. “I think that is a wonderful aspect of doing ‘A Christmas Carol.’ I remember that same feeling the first time I did it.
“It’s the holidays, and it’s about love and sharing and knowing what’s truly valuable in life. You feel the obligation of telling that story and telling it well.”