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“A Christmas Carol” returns to Public Theatre

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Dale Place portrays Scrooge in The Public Theatre’s original adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” running for four shows only Dec. 13-15.

For one weekend only, on December 13, 14, and 15, The Public Theatre will present its acclaimed original adaptation of “A Christmas Carol,” followed by a holiday sing–a-long featuring Christmas Carol fiddler Jennifer Armstrong.

The Public Theatre’s own version of Dickens’ classic tale has become a holiday favorite in Lewiston-Auburn. Performed by six actors and a fiddler, this inventive adaptation was developed and written for The Public Theatre by Artistic Director Christopher Schario in 1993. It has since been published by Dramatists Play Service and is now regularly performed by theatres around the world.

“There’s a reason why this great story is always retold during the holiday season and will never go away,” says Schario. “Sometimes it’s easy to forget the meaning of the holiday in all the shopping. Watching Scrooge’s journey always awakens my own holiday spirit and gets me ready to truly celebrate Christmas.”

The Public Theatre’s version begins with a child reading a copy of Dickens’ novel. As the child reads, five actors and a fiddler magically appear and slowly coax the child into joining the story and becoming the character of Tiny Tim. The scene is a marvelous metaphor for the way literature grabs and transforms us while serving as fresh new way to illuminate this tale of human redemption.

“We stay true to the heart of the story, while at the same time imaginatively rejuvenating a familiar tale,” says Schario. Much of Dickens’ original text is used, with the six actors sharing the narration and portraying the various characters with the aid of a simple costume piece. A live fiddler underscores the story with traditional Christmas music, while a hand-cranked wind machine and a thunder sheet create a delightfully theatrical atmosphere. Uncluttered by spectacle, the audience’s imagination is free to soar and the classic story comes to life.

Leading the cast will be Dale Place in the role of Scrooge. Place returns to The Public Theater after appearing on Broadway and at Lincoln Center in “Nikolai and the Others.” Public Theatre audiences might also recognize him from roles in various films, including “The Fighter” and “The Proposal” starring Sandra Bullock.

Also returning to The Public Theatre will be Russell Berrigan, Sheila Stasack (Fallen Angels, Red Herring), and Ellen Lindsay (The 3 Little Pigs). The cast also features local actors Matt Delameter (Last Mass at St. Casimir’s) and Auburn Middle School student Oliver Hall as Tiny Tim. Returning as the fiddler will be acclaimed musician and storyteller Jennifer Armstrong.

Especially worth noting for this family favorite is The Public Theatre’s year-round ticket price of only $5 for children ages 18 and under. The top ticket price for adults is $20.

A Christmas Carol will be performed on Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m., Saturday, December 14 at 2 and 7 p.m., and Sunday, December 15 at 2 pm. For tickets, call the Box Office at 782-3200. For more information, see www.thepublictheatre.org.

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