Celebrate the holidays with A Christmas Carol. The Great Lakes Theater Festival’s 22nd annual production of Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale opened Friday, December 3. This holiday tradition runs through December 23 in the Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare.
The timeless story of Ebenezer Scrooge has been told numerous times from various film adaptations to a host of other media. By now, we all know the story, but its magic continues to enchant every holiday season. The play opens on Christmas Eve 1864. The Cleaveland Family is celebrating the season, and Mother is reading A Christmas Carol to the children. The story then comes to life on stage as we are “transported” to Victorian London where we, too, will learn the story of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Ebenezer Scrooge is a nasty, bitter, old man. He has little happiness in his life, and his only true love is money. On a Christmas Eve long ago, Scrooge is visited by four ghosts. The first is his former business partner, Jacob Marley, who warns him of the other three: The ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. These three ghosts help Scrooge to see his life, and the lives of others, in a very different way, and in doing so, he learns the true spirit of the Christmas season.
Charles Dickens is one of the world’s most celebrated authors. Most of Dickens’ works were initially serialized in weekly and monthly magazines before being published in standard book formats. Among his many well-known works are The Adventures of Oliver Twist (February 1837 – April 1839), David Copperfield (May 1849 – November 1850), A Tale of Two Cities (April 1859 – November 1859), and Great Expectations (December 1860 – August 1861). His novella A Christmas Carol was published in December 1843. It remains a classic of English literature, and it has never been out of print.
For nearly 50 years, Great Lakes Theater Festival has been presenting classic theatre of the highest standard in the Greater Cleveland Area. And A Christmas Carol continues to be a favorite production. The story is a true classic, the acting is superb, the special effects are spectacular, and the sets and costumes take us back in time to Victorian London. This production is first-rate and can be enjoyed by the entire family.
In the spring, the company will return to the Hanna Theatre with two productions from the most famous playwright of all time. Great Lakes Theater Festival’s Spring Repertory will include The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged) (March 11-27) and Shakespeare’s The Two Gentlemen of Verona (April 8-23). Tickets are available now.
The Great Lakes Theater Festival began in July of 1962, at the Lakewood Civic Auditorium in Lakewood, Ohio. As the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, the company presented six Shakespeare plays in rotating repertory. In 1965, the repertory was expanded to include non-Shakespearean classics, although they have always remained an important part of the company. Twenty years later, in July of 1982, the Great Lakes Theater Festival moved to the Ohio Theatre at PlayhouseSquare. And then in 2008, the company would move again to the beautifully restored Hanna Theatre.
With eight theatres, PlayhouseSquare is the nation’s second largest performing arts center (after Lincoln Center in New York). The five oldest theatres date back to 1921-1922, and all have been gloriously restored. In 2011, another important Cleveland institution, The Cleveland Play House, will move to PlayhouseSquare in a renovated and reconfigured Allen Theatre. Two additional theatres will be built for this venture, bringing PlayhouseSquare’s theatre count to ten and making Cleveland’s Theatre District busier and more vibrant than ever.
For more information about the Great Lakes Theater Festival visit www.GreatLakesTheater.org.
– Submitted by Christopher S. Musselman, guest blogger
Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron is a remarkable destination year-round, but during the winter holiday season, the historic mansion and grounds that Goodyear co-founder F.A. Seiberling once called home hold even more holiday magic and surprises during the annual Deck the Hall! celebration.
While Deck the Hall! is always a much-anticipated year-end event, the 2010 incarnation, “A Dickens of a Christmas,” mixes Stan Hywet’s atmosphere with characters of the Yuletide classic, A Christmas Carol. Thanks to characters from Akron’s “History Firsthand” troupe, seasonal visitors might wander past Ebenezer Scrooge muttering to himself while counting his money or catch a tune from Fezziwig’s ball while touring the estate’s magnificent surroundings. Forty areas of the mansion are being transformed to fit the Dickensian theme, and like old Scrooge himself, you’ll be able to experience the transformation all in one night.
“We’re going to bring it to life,” says Stan Hywet communications manager Donna Spiegler. “And the same characters won’t be there every day, so you never know who you’ll see.”
Visitors will step back in time and into Dickens’ territory from the moment they set foot in the courtyard’s vintage village. And, they’ll get in the spirit with a 20-foot Christmas tree which gets its own lighting ceremony each day at 5:30pm.
“You’ll know you’ve arrived at something special,” Spiegler says. “You’ll be able to buy hot cider and hot cocoa in one of the little houses and gingerbread cookies in another.”
Still more surprises await in the music room, where Deck the Hall! features live music every night, including local church choirs and music groups, solo pianists and tunes played on the Hall’s recently-restored Aeolian organ. The tours are self-guided so there’s no need to hurry back to the present . . . feel free to enjoy your own pleasant ghosts of Christmas past.
Stan Hywet’s famed conservatory will also be decorated and illuminated in the holiday spirit and, in the old tack room and horse stalls of the Carriage House, visitors are invited to browse and eat in the cozy confines of Molly’s Shop and Café. Molly’s menu features salads and gourmet sandwiches and wraps made with organic ingredients from the local Mustard Seed Market & Café, along with scrumptious freshly-baked cookies and scones.
This year, you can do more than just read A Christmas Carol. Spend a few hours at Stan Hywet and you can almost live it – and that’s a great Christmas surprise.
(Deck the Hall! is open from 5 to 8pm, November 26-30, December 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 21-23 and 26-30.) — Submitted by John Booth, guest blogger