This Santa’s Helpers Include Meisner and Stanislavsky

Frankfort, Kentucky is a lot closer to midtown Manhattan than the North Pole. Which is a good thing because that’s where Charles Edward Hall, the man who has been playing Santa Claus in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular since 1986, makes his home.

AP drama writer Mark Kennedy has fun with the subject matter, starting with a very cute cookies-and-milk lede. He also highlights St. Nick’s impressive thespian training:

Hall is a classically trained actor who cut his teeth doing Shakespeare, Moliere and Ibsen after graduating from Murray State University. One of his more memorable roles was as the Wicked Witch of the West in [previous Radio City Music Hall show] Snow White Live.

Santa is now a full-time gig and Hall takes it very seriously. How many department store Santas can quote from My Life in Art by Konstantin Stanislavsky or reference the acting techniques of Sanford Meisner? Hall is a character actor who’s landed an iconic role.

Hall no longer reads letters on-stage but still definitely mingles with the large audience. And to meet the expectations of today’s savvy spectators, the show now encompasses 3-D glasses, LED screen technology and GPS.

Read the rest of the AP interview to find out what Hall must cut out of his diet each August to start preparing for the November 8-December 30 miracle on Sixth Avenue.

[Photo courtesy: Radio City Music Hall]