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Greensboro theater company to revive 'A Christmas Carol'
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Greensboro theater company to revive 'A Christmas Carol'

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Updated on July 23, 2021 with information about the High Point Community Theatre production of "A Christmas Carol: The Musical."

GREENSBORO — Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit and Ebenezer Scrooge will return to the Triad this holiday season.

Seven years after the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival shut its doors in High Point, a group of veteran actors from the company will revive its production of “A Christmas Carol.”

From Dec. 9 to 19, they will bring the play based on Charles Dickens’ novella to Well-Spring retirement community.

Theater actor, director and producer Meredith DiPaolo Stephens, who served as assistant managing director at the Shakespeare Festival from 2001 to 2014, will produce “A Christmas Carol” under the umbrella of Goodly Frame Theatre.

Goodly Frame is a performing arts company Stephens founded with a mission to rediscover and redefine the boundaries of Shakespeare.

The Shakespeare Festival presented a “A Christmas Carol” annually for 36 years. Financial struggles forced the company to close in 2014.

Greensboro-based Triad Stage also presented “A Christmas Carol” in Winston-Salem for several years until the COVID-19 pandemic shut down live entertainment in 2020.

Triad Stage is on temporary hiatus and has not announced plans for any holiday productions.

High Point Community Theatre has been producing "A Christmas Carol: The Musical" at High Point Theatre since 2015. It is a large-scale production, with 60 to 75 local cast members of all ages and a live 11-piece orchestra.

Stephens said she wanted to continue the legacy of the Shakespeare Festival’s legendary artistic director Pedro Silva, who died in June 2019 at age 71 from complications stemming from pancreatic cancer.

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“Pedro was not ready to give up on the festival when it closed,” Stephens said in this week’s announcement. “Before his death, he and I often talked about bringing ‘A Christmas Carol’ back. In fact, he gave me all the boxes of materials from the show — the script and the score — and encouraged me to produce it with my company.”

Stephens has enlisted the help of several theater professionals, all of whom are alumni of past “A Christmas Carol” productions.

Some participated in the production when they were children. Others served as actors, designers and music directors for consecutive years.

“When I think about the most impactful time in my career in theater, I think about ‘A Christmas Carol,’” Jenna Tamisiea Elser, who performed in the show from 2010 to 2013, said in the announcement. “It was a spirited, heartwarming show that meant so much to the community, and for me, it was life changing.”

Now the artistic director of Glow Lyric Theatre in Greenville, S.C., Elser will co-direct the production with Mark Armstrong, who performed and music directed “A Christmas Carol” for 17 years with the Shakespeare Festival.

Other members of the production team who are alumni include David Sebren as production manager, well-known Triad actress Pauline Cobrda as music director and Wally Eastland as set and lighting designer.

The 2021 revival will have the same script and music as the Shakespeare Festival production.

The production will feature a new set design that pays homage to the show’s past designs. It also will have a fresh costume design, but featuring some of the original iconic pieces from the former Shakespeare Festival costume shop.

The cast will consist of 22 professional and community actors — mostly “A Christmas Carol” alumni — with some new faces, including several local children appearing in their first professional production.

Mark Woodard, known for his charming portrayal of Fred in “A Christmas Carol” from 2009 to 2013, will portray the stingy Ebenezer Scrooge.

Stephens also plans to continue to expand the legacy of Silva and the Shakespeare Festival. That includes taking up the mantle of education outreach with a reimagined statewide school tour.

“After 15 months in a world without in-person theater and access to outreach performances in schools, it’s time to bring back the annual production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ that we love,” Stephens said. “It’s time to honor Pedro’s legacy.”

Contact Dawn DeCwikiel-Kane at 336-373-5204 and follow

@dawndkaneNR on Twitter.

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