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Colonial Players’ A Christmas Carol

Still dazzling after 35 years

Let me describe the spirit of Christmas: It’s the wonder in a child’s eyes when Scrooge talks to them as they wait in line November 19 with their parents for a ticket to Colonial Players’ 35-year Annapolis holiday tradition, A Christmas Carol. It’s another child’s giddy excitement when Ebeneezer pulls them from the audience to dance as he joyfully transforms from cold-hearted humbug to warm, genial benefactor. Having played Scrooge twice at Colonial, I can tell you there is nothing like those eyes to remind you why you’re doing 16 shows in just two weekends.
     In 1981, local actor/director Rick Wade tinkered with a musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’s classic. When Colonial Players offered to stage it, according to Wade, “More than a few people thought it would quietly fizzle out as a one-year experiment. Annapolitans, bless ’em, took the play to their hearts.”
    They not only took it to their hearts, they made it their own tradition: Today’s audiences are filled with the children of the children of the parents who first discovered this gem. Their love for the show is illustrated by the one-time-only Saturday morning ticket sale, a tradition in itself, when cheery early-risers claim their place in a line that wends from the theater, up East Street, around State Circle, and down Maryland Avenue. Cast members travel the line singing, handing out cookies and cider, and experiencing the wonder in those little ones’ eyes. Like the release of a new iPhone, except more rewarding.
    The gifts don’t stop with the final performance. A large portion of the proceeds goes to local charities so the spirit of the season can reach beyond December.
    Wade directs this year’s production, and I’ll be there again, this time as Bob Cractchit, Tiny Tim atop my shoulder, with a cast of nearly 30 … Ebeneezer, the townsfolk, the ghosts. All performing a story so timeless it takes barely 70 minutes to become the heart of the holidays for generations of Annapolitans.

Standby tickets: