Familiar story of Scrooge’s redemption brings audience back to ISU Theatre’s ‘A Christmas Carol’

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ISU student Christopher Kent as Scrooge, right, with Philip Stoytchev as Tiny Tim. Nancy Thompson photo

They know the story and the characters: Marley, Cratchit, Tiny Tim and – of course – Scrooge. But to no surprise, many audience members return every three years to see ISU Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol.”

Beginning Dec. 5, this year’s production marks Professor Jane Cox’s eighth time directing the Dickens holiday classic on campus. She believes the audience likes returning to a familiar story and theme. “The idea that it is never too late to change and become a better person resonates with almost all of us,” she said.

The classic is staged every three years partly because of the work needed to assemble a large cast. The 2014 playbill lists more than 45 actors including ISU students and people from the area. The youngest actor is 5.

This year’s play is again Cox’s original adaptation. It’s true to the original Dickens book, although some lines have been adjusted over time. “I don’t change the famous ones from Dickens himself, of course, but, for example, Dickens has the Cratchit family say grace before they begin their Christmas dinner. I use a few of the sentences that my own dad used to say before our family ate Christmas dinner.”

Although “A Christmas Carol” is more than 170 years old, Cox said the story of Scrooge’s trek to redemption is still popular.

“Dickens wrote it in 1843 and it has never been out of print since that time. I think that says something about the affection millions of people have felt and do feel for this beautiful story,” she said.

“A Christmas Carol” will be performed at Fisher Theater Dec. 5, 6, 12 and 13 (Fridays and Saturdays) at 7:30 p.m. Matinee performances are Sundays, Dec. 7 at 1 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 2 p.m. Tickets are available at the Iowa State Center Ticket Office and through Ticketmaster.

Did You Know…IMDB.com lists the character Ebenezer Scrooge in 104 films and shows from 1910 to 2014. Some of those who played Scrooge or Scrooge-like characters: Jim Carrey, Tom Hanks, Vanessa Williams, and Michael Caine with the Muppets. – Steve Jones