Returning home to theater family for the holidays

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By Ed Karvoski Jr., Culture Editor

Peter S. Adams
Photo/submitted

Beverly/Salem – Actor-singer Peter S. Adams of Salem is looking forward to the holiday season when he’ll once again reunite with longtime theater colleagues. For the sixth consecutive year, he’ll portray the Ghost of Christmas Present in the musical “A Christmas Carol,” opening Friday, Dec. 6, through Sunday, Dec. 22, at North Shore Music Theater (NSMT) in Beverly.

According to NSMT’s website, “This award-winning production was created specifically for NSMT and has been seen by more than one million people since its debut in 1989.”

“We’re like a family,” Adams said of the cast. “We’ve been doing the show together for so many years that it’s like coming home for Christmas and getting to play with all of your friends. It’s also fun because we already know the show. It’s not as nerve-racking that we need to rehearse and then perform it in two-and-a-half weeks.”

Peter S. Adams as the Ghost of Christmas Present surrounded by “A Christmas Carol” castmates at North Shore Music Theater
Photo/Paul Lyden

Growing up in Beverly, Adams was introduced to NSMT as a young theater patron when his mother took him there in 1972 to see “The King & I” starring Betsy Palmer. Around that time, he began to study acting at the local YMCA and then joined his middle school’s drama club.

Determined to return to where his passion launched, he started working at NSMT as a teenage usher. The job gave him a chance to see many shows.

“Because of my love for the theater, I never missed a performance,” he recalled. “I worked all eight shows every week. My parents never saw me!”

The job continued through high school with additional responsibilities such as driving the actors to and from their hotels. With mixed emotions, Adams remembers when he chauffeured the multi-award-winning actress-singer Rita Moreno.

Peter S. Adams as the Ghost of Christmas Present in “A Christmas Carol” at North Shore Music Theater
Photo/Paul Lyden

“She was cooking a sauce in her hotel room and asked me if I wanted to come in for spaghetti,” he relayed. “I was so petrified that I said, ‘No.’ Now I look back and realize how stupid that was.”

Adams got promoted to NSMT’s house manager, and then worked the box office in various capacities through high school and college while concurrently studying voice privately. He graduated from Salem State College with a bachelor’s degree in theater.

In 1990, his NSMT work transitioned from behind-the-scenes to acting onstage when he got cast to play Dick Williams and Christmas Future in its production of “A Christmas Carol.” The gig earned him his Equity union card.

“It was very exciting,” he declared. “I had done theater all over the area and gotten paid for it, but NSMT is where my theater experience started. It was always my dream to one day perform there.”

2018 “Ragtime” castmates at The Company Theatre in Norwell: (back, l to r) Jeffrey Sewell, Peter S. Adams, Paula Markowicz, Daniel Hannafin and (front) Owen Veith
Photo/Zoe Bradford

Armed with an Equity card, Adams worked at regional theaters throughout New England and beyond. In 2001 and 2002, he performed the role of Father in a national and Canadian tour of “Ragtime.” More recently, he reprised the role in “Ragtime” productions in 2018 at The Company Theatre in Norwell, and earlier this year at Wheelock Family Theatre (WFT) in Boston.

Reviewing WFT’s “Ragtime,” critic Nicholas Whittaker of The Theater Mirror hailed, “Peter S. Adams gives one of the production’s most cohesive and dependable performances. His warm baritone is strong and clear.”

Peter S. Adam in the 2019 U.S. premiere of “Onegin” at Greater Boston Stage Company in Stoneham
Photo/Maggie Hall Photography

From 2010 to 2013, Adams portrayed the Ghost of Christmas Present in “A Christmas Carol” at Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester. Another homecoming occurred for him in 2014 when he got hired to perform the role in NSMT’s production – a job that he has continued working annually.

“I love both productions, but would have to say that Hanover Theatre’s production is more of a play with music, and NSMT’s production is a full-blown musical – which is a lot of fun to perform,” he explained.

Adams recognizes similarities between himself and the character.

“His whole premise is to bring joy and happiness into other people’s lives,” he said. “My mother used to tell me that I was put on this earth to make people laugh. Both of my parents died of cancer and I never could have survived the tough times if it weren’t for laughter. It’s wonderful to still be doing what I love at this stage of my life.”

For “A Christmas Carol” ticket information, call NSMT at 978-232-7200 or visit nsmt.org.