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Published: Thursday, 12/1/2011

Beloved Christmas tale returns this weekend

BY ROD LOCKWOOD
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Paul Causman as Scrooge, front right, celebrates the joy of Christmas with his nephew, Fred, second from left, played by Zach Lahey, and townspeople. The Rep production features 130 actors and singers from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan. Paul Causman as Scrooge, front right, celebrates the joy of Christmas with his nephew, Fred, second from left, played by Zach Lahey, and townspeople. The Rep production features 130 actors and singers from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.
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A holiday classic gets a makeover this season by the Toledo Repertoire Theatre, but fans of A Christmas Carol shouldn't fret.

Rather than make the venerable Charles Dickens' theatrical war horse contemporary, the company is actually returning some of its authenticity during performances this weekend at the Valentine Theatre and giving it the treatment director Deb Calabrese believes the author intended.

"It's a huge facelift and there's new dancing and a few new people in roles. It's very exciting this year," she said.

The Rep has been performing A Christmas Carol since the mid-'80s and Calabrese has been involved since 1987. She said that over the years inconsistencies had crept into the story and music that bothered her and musical director David Jex and costume designer Jim Norman.

"There were so many things that didn't make sense," she said. For example, when the ghost of Marley appears, is it over one night or three nights? And exactly how many people are in the Cratchit family, given that every year there seemed to be a different number in the local production?

So last year when the last performance was held, they went about remaking it, relying on a book that featured Dickens' original production notes from 1859.

"Everything makes sense now. All the dialog makes sense and the reason why someone said it, makes sense," Calabrese said. "Everything is the way Dickens wrote it and that tickles me more than anything."

Some of the period music has been restored and costumes also are more realistic, she noted, adding that fans of the original will not be disappointed because the changes -- while important -- are not radical.

One thing that remains the same is the person playing Scrooge. Paul Causman has handled that role with the Rep for years and he's back again this year. The cast features 130 actors and singers from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

Performances at the Valentine Theatre, 400 N. Superior St., will be Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets remain available for all of the performances. They are $27 for adults and $17 for youths. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 419-242-2787 or online at valentinetheatre.com.

Adaptation

The Lourdes University Drama Society will present Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

The play is based on Robert Fulgham's best-selling book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten and it provides a series of dramatic vignettes from his work. The result is a funny and poignant look at the struggle to find the holiday spirit. This is the fourth year that Lourdes has presented Uh-Oh, Here Comes Christmas.

Performances at the Ebeid Student Center on the lover level of McAlear Hall will be Friday and Saturday at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets are $5. Lourdes University is on Convent Boulevard in Sylvania. Information: 419-517-8881.

Holiday classic

SANDUSKY -- One of the most beloved Christmas tales, It's A Wonderful Life, will be presented Friday and Saturday at the Sandusky State Theatre.

The play about small-town George Bailey's efforts to rise above his lot in life with the help of an angel will be produced by Thomas Kazmierczak III and directed by Trish Sandberg. Key roles will be played by Joe O'Brien, Madelyn Jividen, Dana Stahl, Charles Leiber, Kathy Moldovan, Jillian Gosser, Steve Heineman, Matt Parker, Matthew Westerhold, and Emma Rice.

Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday. Show tickets only are $21-$31 and dinner and show packages are $39-$49. Tickets can be purchased at the box office, 107 Columbus Ave., by calling 419-626-1950 or 877-626-1950 or online at www.sanduskystate.com.

Contact Rod Lockwood at: rlockwood@theblade.com or 419-724-6159.



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