Christmas theater is rich on tradition

November 25, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

Tradition has been defined as a long-established custom or practice that has the effect of precedent or unwritten law.

The winter holidays are full of tradition, Christmas plays among them.

Charles Dickens' 1843 story, "A Christmas Carol," has been adapted for the stage and the screen through many years.

It will be presented again - for the 13th time since 1987 - by a cast of professional and community actors under the direction of Carl Schurr, producing artistic director of Totem Pole Playhouse, at the Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg, Pa.

Although the Caledonia Theatre Company production is not done annually, it has become part of local tradition.

"It's doing a show, and it's a reunion of old friends. There's something magical about it," Schurr said.

The cast of 28 actors and singers includes 10 children, all committed to the demanding rehearsal and performance schedule at a busy time of year. Many actors return year after year, and there are kids who have grown up with the play.


Wil Love will return as Ebenezer Scrooge, a role he figures he's played more than 250 times. He doesn't need makeup to make him look older, he chuckled. Although he hadn't looked at the script, "It did come right back to me," he said.

Scrooge is in his bone marrow, he said, yet he tries to rethink the role each time he performs it. Love also said he finds inspiration in the cast.

"Live theater is different from night to night," he said. And each audience is different, as well.

Audiences are invited to be part of another of the production's traditions: Kay Yaukey will lead an a capella ensemble in the Carol Concert, just before the curtain goes up.

Familiar songs will be sung. Everyone knows the story. Yet people sing the carols, they come out to see Christmas plays.

"We put up a Christmas tree every year," Love said.

Of course we do. That's tradition.

Several Christmas plays will be presented at area venues. They include the following:

"A Christmas Carol"

7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18

2:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, Dec. 4 , 5, 11, 12, 18 and 19

2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 8

The Capitol Theatre

159 S. Main St.

Chambersburg, Pa.

Tickets cost $28, $29 for adults; $12 for students.

Call 1-717-352-2164

or 1-888-805-7056.

"Christmas with the Spirits," by John Nunemaker

Sean, a teenage boy wrapped up in the commercialization of Christmas, loses sight of its true meaning. Three spirits take him through historic periods - the Civil War, World War I and the Depression and World War II - to show him what Christmas was to our ancestors.

8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 26; continues Fridays and Saturdays, through Saturday, Dec. 18

Gettysburg Battle Theatre

571 Steinwehr Ave.

Gettysburg, Pa.

Tickets cost $19.95.

Call 1-717-334-6296.

"A Christmas Story"

The popular film based on humorist Jean Shepherd's memoir of growing up in the Midwest in the 1940s comes to the stage.

8 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 3 and 10; Saturdays, Dec. 4 and 11

2 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 5 and 12

Noon Thursday, Dec. 9

Apollo Civic Theatre

128 E. Martin St.

Martinsburg, W.Va.

Tickets for adults cost $12 for Friday and Saturday performances; $10 for Sunday matinees. Tickets for the Thursday, Dec. 9, performance cost $5 for students and teachers, $7 for the general public.

Call 1-304-263-6766 or go to on the Web.


A musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"

8 p.m. Fridays, Dec. 3 and 10; Saturdays, Dec. 4 and 11. Tickets cost $14 for adults.

7:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 9. Tickets cost $10 for adults.

2:30 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 5 and 12; Saturday, Dec. 11. Tickets cost $12 for adults.

Old Opera House

204 N. George St.

Charles Town, W.Va.

Tickets for students 13 to 18 and those with college ID cost $7; and $5 for children 12 and younger.

Call 1-304-725-4420

or 1-888-900-SHOW.

"It's A Wonderful Life"

Relive the story of George Bailey and his guardian angel in this holiday production by Fredericktowne Players based on the film by Frank Capra.

10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 2

8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, Friday, Dec. 3, and Saturday, Dec. 4

2 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 5

Weinberg Center for the Arts

20 W. Patrick St.

Frederick, Md.

Tickets cost $5 for the 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 2, performance. Tickets for all other performances cost $18 and are available by calling 1-301-228-2828 or online at

"A Christmas Carol"

The Fun Company, a division of Maryland Ensemble Theatre

10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 16 and Friday, Dec. 17

8 p.m. Friday, Dec. 17; Saturday, Dec. 18

2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 18, and Sunday, Dec. 19

Weinberg Center for the Arts

Tickets cost $5 for the 10 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, and Friday, Dec. 1, performances. Tickets for all other performances cost $10, $18 and $20 and are available by calling 1-301-228-2828 or online at

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