Shakespeare Festival Presents 'A Christmas Carol'
The North Carolina Shake-speare Festival (NCSF) is busily preparing for its 29th annual production of Charles Dickens' immortal tale, "A Christmas Carol."
The response to Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit and Tiny Tim is as enthusiastic today as when NCSF first presented the play in 1977.
"Tradition and family have much to do with the marvelous popularity of 'A Christmas Carol,'" says Pedro Silva, the play's director and The Festival's managing and artistic director. "In this fast-paced world we now live in, traditions get lost, but during the holiday season families make a point of maintaining traditions or creating new ones. Attending 'A Christmas Carol' is an important tradition for many. Dickens' story is wonderfully accessible and enjoyable for both young and old."
Loyal theatergoers can expect some surprises in this year's production in High Point and Winston-Salem.
"We're making adjustments to keep it fresh and vibrant for our audiences, with the goal of staying as true as possible to Dickens' story," Silva says. "I doubt there are more than a dozen words in this year's version that are not in Dickens' original tale. New features include additional narrations, the inclusion of Old Joe and Mrs. Dilber, and much more."
NCSF veteran Equity actor Allan Edwards, who has anchored the company's reputation for artistic excellence for two decades, will play Ebenezer Scrooge for the eighth consecutive year.
"As I get older, I am more and more enchanted by the comical old skinflint, maybe because I'm tempted to be more and more like him," says Edwards, who first appeared on the NCSF stage in 1987. "And Ebenezer's story gives me the spirit to resist the temptation to be bitter and to believe that I can do good, as we all can."
This year's production will be sponsored by Kilpatrick Stockton and Flow BMW/Mini.
"Our support of this holiday event is about much more than corporate visibility, though we value that greatly," says J. Smith, manager of Flow BMW/Mini. "It's about giving back to our community by helping to ensure that this first-class production remains available for the enjoyment of many thousands of our community's students and citizens."
Equity actors include Graham Smith of Charlotte as Bob Cratchit; Cynthia Barrett of High Point as the First Philanthropist and Mrs. Dilber; Ross DeGraw of Greensboro as the Second Philanthropist; Richard Fullerton of Winston-Salem as Jacob Marley and Old Joe; Gregory Lamont Allen of Brooklyn, N.Y. as The Ghost of Christmas Past; and Jason Loughlin of Charlotte as Scrooge's nephew, Fred.
Pauline Cobrda, appearing in her 20th production as a Caroler and Mrs. Fezziwig, leads the non-Equity adult actors.
Joining her will be Mark Armstrong of Greensboro as a Caroler; Mary Barnhardt of Winston-Salem as a Townsperson; Mary Jellicorse of Greensboro as Mrs. Cratchit; Michael Howell of High Point as a Townsperson; Eric Mendenhall of Lexington as Young Scrooge; and Bethany Anne Lind of High Point as Belle.
Students in The Festival's internship program with the UNCG Theater Program are David Sebren as a Townsperson and Zac Campbell as The Ghost of Christmas Present.
North Carolina A&T theater majors in the production are Christopher Berry as a Caroler and Melanie Matthews as Sarah, Fred's wife.
"A Christmas Carol" will be at the High Point Theatre, Dec. 2-10 and Dec. 2123, and at the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem, Dec. 15-17.
To purchase tickets for High Point performances, call 336-887-3001, Monday through Fri-day from noon to 5 p.m., or visit www.highpointtheatre.com
For Winston-Salem performances, call 336-721-1945, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. or visit www.tick ets.com or www.ncarts. edu.
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