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Hunting Hills students to stage classic tale of A Christmas Carol

Performances run Dec. 15th-17th at the Red Deer Memorial Centre

Charles Dickens’ compelling seasonal classic – A Christmas Carol – is about to be staged by the talented young actors of Hunting Hills High School.

Performances run Dec. 15th-17th at the Red Deer Memorial Centre, with curtain at 7 p.m. There is also a 1 p.m. matinee on Dec. 17th as well.

A Christmas Carol was first published in London on Dec. 19th, 1843, according to Wikipedia.

“The novella met with instant success and critical acclaim. A Christmas Carol tells the story of a bitter old miser named Ebeneezer Scrooge and his transformation into a gentler, kindlier man after visitations by the ghost of his former business partner Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.

“I think the interesting thing about what we’ve done this year is that the actual story we are telling is probably truer to the original novella by Dickens then many of the interpretations of A Christmas Carol,” said instructor and director Bill Jacobsen, adding that he and the class adapted the famous work themselves. The classic elements remain of course, but there are some changes that will in effect make the play a bit more accessible and relatable perhaps to modern audiences.

“There are whole sections of dialogue that are exactly as written in the novel,” he said. “On the other hand, we aren’t setting it specifically in Victorian England with people in heavy wool coats and top hats.

“So the look of it is very different but story is very truthful to the original.”

The overall look isn’t really time specific.

“We purposefully removed references to work houses and things like that, and injected terms such as ‘refugees’ and ‘welfare’ instead. So we have given it a little bit of a modern view that way.

“Given the political situations that we are in in the world, the idea of referring to some of the the poor and the downtrodden in our society in those kinds of terms were relevant. So we are happy with that change.

“The other thing that really struck me as we were working through the creation of the script is that I’ve felt so often as I’ve watched versions of A Christmas Carol before – film or stage adaptations – it always seems sort of magically at the end that Scrooge changes. But if you read the book, from the very first visit of the first ghost, he’s beginning to say, ‘My heavens – what have I done?

“I’m hoping that that transformation is a little clearer for some people watching – that it isn’t the thought of his own death that changes him.”

Jacobsen said there are 64 speaking roles in the show by 27 actors. “People are playing multiple roles.” The cast also includes three narrators to move the fascinating plot along.

“We are really pleased with the work the kids have done. Some of the design in this show are beautiful, too.

“I’m really excited to see how people respond to the look of the show as well.”

It’s been noted the book was written at a time when the British were examining and exploring Christmas traditions from the past as well as new customs such as Christmas cards and Christmas trees. Carol singing took a new lease of life during this time.

”A Christmas Carol also remains popular — having never been out of print — and has been adapted many times to film, stage, opera and other media.” The book was written for Dickens to read aloud to audiences as well.

“He travelled all over the world reading his works,” added Jacobsen. “A Christmas Carol was designed to be a 90-minute presentation by him,” he said. “He would read it as a 90-minute story – it would be like his ‘concert’.”

Wikipedia noted that he read the tale in an abbreviated version 127 times, until 1870 (the year of his death), when it provided the material for his farewell performance.

To Jacobsen, part of the core of the story that is so impactful is that of the theme of transformation.

“That this man who has done such reprehensible, awful things – can change.”

Advance tickets for A Christmas Carol are $10, and are available at the high school’s office. They can also be picked up for $13 at the door.

mark.weber@reddeerexpress.com