by Sally Henry Fuller and Ashley Elliott
When Terry Burrell is asked how she feels about A Very Terry Christmas, the first thing she says is, “Gratitude. Tremendous, tremendous gratitude.”
A seasoned Atlanta and Broadway performer, Terry was most recently seen at the Alliance online in her dual cabaret We’re Still Here with fellow Broadway and local star Courtenay Collins. She says she is particularly grateful that at a time when many performers are out of work, she gets to not only return to the stage (and screen) but also reconnect with her Alliance family.
“Especially when you’re doing a show like A Christmas Carol, where you’re working ten shows in a week, you’re together a lot,” Terry shares. “One of the greatest parts of doing A Very Terry Christmas was to see the crew again and that they could work and that we were working on this project together. I’m working with people whom I love, and they’re working with somebody they love. I’m telling you, it was like a family reunion! It was just wonderful. They’re totally in my corner. Totally. I really trusted everybody on this project.”
Leading A Very Terry Christmas may seem like a natural step for a multi-talented performer who has done multiple cabarets this year alone, but on-camera acting has not historically been her comfort zone.
“I don’t do film and television, as a rule,” Terry tells us. “I do theatre. I had somehow talked myself into thinking that I couldn’t do film or television because the camera didn’t like my face. I don’t know where I came up with that.”
Despite her hesitation, the support of the Alliance team helped Terry warm up to the idea.
“[Line Producer] Tinashe Kajese-Bolden walked up to me one day, and she said, ‘The camera loves your face!’” she shares. “These are people who, when they say something to you, they mean it. They would never say something they didn’t mean or be disrespectful in that way. I knew [Videographer Felipe] Barral from filming Backstage and Other Stories at Synchronicity Theatre a few weeks ago, so I know how gifted he is, like everybody else, so I knew I was in good hands.”
Terry has long since blazed through her initial misgivings and gone all-in with this unique show that she believes is very suited to her.
“The sense of it being built around me really didn’t kick in until maybe a week later. And then I started going, ‘Wait a minute!’” Terry recalls. “[Director Susan Booth] gave me the choice of doing this onstage without an audience or going around the city, and I said, ‘Around the city! Nobody’s doing this. It’s going to be very different but we’re going to make friends.’”
And make friends she did, bubbling over with excitement as she recalls visiting Atlanta’s greatest hits including the Varsity, Georgia Aquarium, Zoo Atlanta, the College Football Hall of Fame, and particularly SkyView Atlanta.
“Have you been? GO! You have to go,” she says. “I thought that it was the kind of ride where you’re on the outside, but they are actual gondolas. They look like Cinderella’s carriage. You get in and they close the doors, and then you take this very slow revolve when you can literally look out at the entire city. I always think of downtown [Atlanta] as the land of Oz because when I’m approaching it; it’s just so beautiful.”
For Terry, this whole experience has been like a dream.
“The fact that I had this amazing opportunity to do this – who gets a film that’s written around them? I mean, come on! By the end of the day my feet were throbbing but there was this ball of sunshine in my being because I suddenly thought about what I was doing.”
“If there’s any trepidation,” Terry says, “it would be because I want it to be really, really good. I want it to be everything that the Alliance wants it to be for people who are watching it. This is our gift to the city of Atlanta – and it’s an incredible city.”
We can’t help but agree.