Holiday favorite coming to Woodbury stage
One of the holidays' great traditions is watching the classic tale of "A Christmas Carol."
Woodbury Community Theatre will bring the Christmas favorite to the stage next month. The production, presented as a musical, premiers Dec. 2.
"'A Christmas Carol' is obviously the epitome of a true Christmas story," director Lenore Weir said.
The play, written by Charles Dickens, is the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy and stingy businessman who has no place in his life for kindness, compassion, charity or benevolence. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his deceased business partner Jacob Marley. Marley warns Scrooge to change his ways, so that he may avoid a miserable afterlife like him.
Scrooge is visited by three ghosts - the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come.
Each ghost transports Scrooge to different parts of his life in hopes of helping him transform his ways.
Scrooge awakens Christmas morning with joy and love in his heart because of his experiences the previous night.
"Everyone can change and be better," Weir said. "That's the whole premise of the story."
Woodbury Community Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol" is different from other versions in that it is a musical.
Weir said her cast of 56 has done an exceptional job of bringing the characters to life, no one more so than Ebenezer Scrooge himself.
"Scrooge is remarkable," she said. "The man was born to play this part."
Scrooge will be played by St. Louis Park resident Corey Okonek, who has appeared in two previous productions of "A Christmas Carol" where he played Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Present.
"I've finally landed Scrooge," he said. "My bucket list is cleared with this play."
Okonek said he has enjoyed being able to bring Scrooge to life since he is such a fun character to play.
"You get to be crabby, but then you get to be happy," he said. "I'm really a nice guy, but I love playing bad guys."
Weir said the biggest challenge she has had to face with this production of "A Christmas Carol" is all of the technical aspects of the show, including lighting, sound and sets.
For example, Weir said it has been very difficult to figure out the lighting aspects of the show since there are ghosts coming on and off stage, faces appearing in fireplaces and even fog on stage.
"This is the technically most challenging show we've ever tried to produce," she said. "The technical issues have been daunting, but I do love this show, so it was irresistible."
However, one aspect of the show that has worked out well is the Woodbury Community Theatre's new rehearsal space in the Dorothy K. Merrill Community Arts Center Rivertown Campus.
Weir said it has been wonderful being able to have one location for rehearsal, set building, costume design and storage.
"It's been heaven," she said.
Weir said she is very confident they will see a good audience this year, despite the fact that they will be going up against the Guthrie Theater and its annual production of "A Christmas Carol."
"People will be pleasantly surprised," she said.
Okonek agrees that this year's show will be a huge success.
"We may not be on the same caliber as them, but we're real close," he said. "It's a much more inexpensive ticket to see, but you'll still have a lovely time."
Weir and Okonek said they are very excited for opening night.
"People will come because it's a beautiful story and they know it," Weir said.
Woodbury Community Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol" will run Dec. 2-3 and Dec. 8-10 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. at the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School. Tickets are $15 adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for children ages 5 to 17 and children under 5 years old are free. Visit www.woodburycommunitytheatre.org to purchase tickets or for more information.
During all performances the Woodbury Community Theatre will be collecting baby and toddler supplies, winter clothes, books, toys and gift cards to be donated to the Tubman organization.