Catasauqua Press

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CONTRIBUTED PHOTOThe Ghost of Jacob Marley, Civic Theatre, “A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 2-17, 19th Street Theatre, 527 N. 19th St., Allentown CONTRIBUTED PHOTOThe Ghost of Jacob Marley, Civic Theatre, “A Christmas Carol,” Dec. 2-17, 19th Street Theatre, 527 N. 19th St., Allentown

Civic journeys to ‘Christmas’

Friday, December 2, 2016 by ERIN FERGUSON Special to The Press in Focus

“A Christmas Carol,” adapted from Charles Dickens’ 1843 novella by Sharon Lee Glassman and William Sanders, who again directs the show, returns to the Civic Theatre stage for the 27th year, Dec. 2-17, 19th Street Theatre, 527 N. 19th St., Allentown.

The timeless tale of Ebenezer Scrooge has allowed thousands of children and adults to share in the magic of Dickens’ cautionary tale in what has become a time-honored Lehigh Valley tradition for “fellow passengers.”

By way of talking about the meaning of the story and Civic’s production, Sanders quotes his favorite Dickens’ paragraph, which contains the line, “fellow passengers”:

“‘There are many things for which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round - apart from the veneration due to its sacred name of origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that - as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it all!’”

The Civic stage is filled with Victorian-era costumes that bring you back in time. The story, being a ghost story of Christmas, tells the tale of bitter old Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation into a much kinder man after being visited by the ghost of his former business partner, Jacob Marley, and the ghosts of Christmas past, present and yet to come.

Civic’s production, with a cast of 120 and a run-time of about one hour and 40 minutes (including intermission), stays true to the story Dickens wrote, with 90 percent of the dialogue from the book. The ending is closer to the movie versions. And, although the content at times can be dark, it is also humorous and geared for children and families.

“There aren’t that many productions out there that have 120 people involved,” Sanders notes.

“I think the best thing about this adaptation is that it’s really true to the Dickens’ story. So much of it is that we haven’t changed a word of it.

“It has a little bit of everything. It’s not a musical per se, but has music in it. It’s not a play because there is music involved.

“I think that’s why people keep coming back. People who originally came to see it are now in their 30s and are still coming to see it and that’s wild,” Sanders says.

“This particular production gives you everything you would expect form a very well-written script but adds the element of local talent and the feeling of a tradition that has been shared by thousands of people in the Lehigh Valley. There is something to be said about the longevity of it. It’s a very faithful audience,” says Sanders.

Tickets: Civic Theatre Box Office, 527 N. 19th St., Allentown; CivicTheatre.com, 610-432-8943