Arts & Leisure

A classic Christmas tale plays for everyone

Middlebury Acting Company presents a pay-what-you can production of Charles Dickens’s classic “A Christmas Carol” at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury beginning Dec. 3. Jordan Gullikson stars as Scrooge, Emrys Yarbrough plays Tiny Tim, and Tom McElhaney acts as Bob Cratchit. Photo by David Devine

We’re rounding the corner into the gift-giving season and Middlebury Acting Company has something special for all of us. Beginning on Dec. 3, nine seasoned actors and five local children will take the stage at the Town Hall Theater in Middlebury to perform an imaginative and theatrical version of Charles Dickens’s classic “A Christmas Carol.”

“Middlebury has never had a local, professional production of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ so we look forward to establishing a new tradition in town that families can look forward to,” said Gary Smith, who adapted and directed this show, which has been produced over 15 times.

Smith’s adaptation stays true to the novella, and deftly integrates Dickens’s witty, pointed and socially conscious narrative with the heartwarming and familiar journey Ebenezer Scrooge makes from profiteer to philanthropist. Guided by his ghosts and all the story’s unforgettable characters, Scrooge makes a courageous and uplifting transformation that in turn transforms the world around him — a journey from darkness to light.

With support from local sponsors, MACo is able to present this Christmas tale to the community on a pay-what-you-can scale. Everyone is welcome, and nobody will be turned away for lack of funds.

Now that’s the holiday spirit!

Of course, “A Christmas Carol” reminds us that not everyone has the “spirit” all the time…

PHOTO BY DAVID Devine

“Working with the character Scrooge is a role, in my mind, on par with many great roles in Shakespeare,” explained Jordan Gullikson, an actor, playwright and director, who also blows glass, writes poetry and is a teaching artist with Vermont Stage’s Vermont Young Playwrights program. “The act of digging down to find his own humanity is such a painful process of self realization. The things he sees in the past, the clear vision, finally, of how much he has changed and how much he has lost, is a beautiful and painful journey. The play is also scary! I keep trying to imagine what it would truly be like to have ghosts actually show up in my bedroom in the middle of the night and taking me through time and space! It’s pretty wild!”

MACo’s production of “A Christmas Carol” also features, Emrys Yarbrough as Tiny Tim, and Tom McElhaney as Bob Cratchit.

MACo’s artistic director Melisa Lourie was intrigued by Smith’s adaptation; especially the concept of giving the play as a “gift to the community.”

“To be able to offer this show on a pay-as-you can basis, so that everybody could afford to go, and so that we could build community through the idea that we are all better off when we support each other, is a powerful idea. And that is the message of the play!” she exclaimed.

Lourie and Smith set off to raise the funds to be able to do this here in Addison County before the pandemic hit.

“We were forced to delay the project a year because of COVID,” Lourie said, “but we decided to plow ahead this year.”

The team is building the infrastructure of the show, sets, costumes and props, so that they will be able to offer it year after year, creating a new holiday tradition in Addison County.

“MACo hasn’t done a show of this size and scope for a long time,” Lourie added. “I am super excited to see the result. We have an incredible team of actors and designers, including a lot of professionals who have recently moved to the area.”

MACo’s “A Christmas Carol” will play at Town Hall Theater in Middlebury on Dec. 3, 4, 9, 10 and 11, at 7 p.m., and Dec. 5 and 12, at 2 p.m.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at different price levels, or you can make a donation at the door. Attendees are required to be vaccinated, children excepted, and everyone must be masked indoors.

For more information or to purchase tickets in advance call the THT Box Office at 802-382-9222 or visit townhalltheater.org.

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