Get into the holiday spirit with a beloved Christmas story, coming to the Manchester Arts Center stage this weekend.
“A Christmas Carol,” based on the Charles Dickens novella, opens tonight.
Director Danelle Afflerbaugh invites locals to meet Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmases past, present and future in the classic story “filled with magic and mystery that can’t fail to warm your heart.”
A story of redemption
Directing the show has been exciting for Afflerbaugh because she had a chance to work with talented actors to bring to life one of her favorite stories.
“I was super excited to be selected as the director of this show,” Afflerbaugh said. “The story appeals to me, personally, because it is a story of redemption.
“There is always time to change your life and become somebody better and help people. No matter how much of a Scrooge you are, no matter how challenging as a person you are, there is always time to redeem yourself and change your life and your heart for good.”
Inspiring people to love and support others is at the heart of the story and that appeals to her, added Afflerbaugh.
“I have directed in the past, but this is the first time I’ve directed a straight play,” she said, using a term that in the theatre refers to a non-musical production. “I own a dance studio, so the shows I’ve been at the helm of before have always been musicals with singing and dancing; that’s my comfort zone. So this has been different, but I have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
“We’ve built this 24-foot Lazy Susan on stage,” Afflerbaugh said. “It’s an enormous set piece we have affectionately named ‘The Beast.’ We wanted the size of that to be impactful and in the story Scrooge is traveling through time with the spirits of past, present and future, so I like the idea to be able to use that rotating platform to create the illusion of him passing through time with the spirits.”
Seeing the stage and the story come to life has been fun, she said.
“It’s definitely the most intricate set I have ever used, and it has been quite a process, but seeing it come to life as we’ve hit the week of dress rehearsals has been really magical,” she said.
“We have a fantastic cast,” Afflerbaugh said.
Robert Hiers, of Tullahoma, transforms on stage in the role of the main character, Ebenezer Scrooge.
“He is magnificent,” Afflerbaugh said. “He is a very experienced and talented actor. He has played this role numerous times before, and you can tell he is really in touch with the character. It’s been amazing to watch him.”
Hiers will be on stage along with a large cast that also features Michael Hansen, Doreen Schulz, Phillip Smith and Ethan Duke as the ghosts; and Jonathan Tucker, April Glosson-Smith and Riley Brannom as the Cratchits.
“It’s an interesting show, and, unlike a lot of the shows I have been a part of before, there is really only one character who is on stage the whole time,” Afflerbaugh said. “You have Scrooge, who is on stage the entire show. All the other characters have almost like vignettes – really small moments on stage – to tell their story and how it impacts Scrooge’s life.
“Aside from Ebenezer Scrooge, there are small moments for everybody, and they really have to be able to connect with the audience to make them feel the weight of that part of his story.”
That aspect of the play has been interesting, she said.
“It’s a little bit different for some of the actors who are used to longer roles,” she said. “But these are definitely deep roles, even though they are not lengthy.”
“This story is a great Christmas tradition – the holiday spirit fills the air, whether you appreciate Christmas or not,” Afflerbaugh said.
She invited locals to see the show at the Manchester Arts Center, Dec. 7-16.
Performances begin at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the MAC, located at 128 E. Main St. in Manchester.
Tickets cost $15 for adults and $13 for students, seniors and members of the military.
Tickets are available online at millenniumrep.org and or by calling 931-570-4489.
Elena Cawley can be reached via email at email@example.com.