Augusta Players keep 'Christmas Carol' tradition fresh

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At Christmas, there are lots of heartwarming stories portrayed on stage and screen, but there are few that touch Debi Ballas as much as A Christmas Carol.

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Michael Hamilton stars as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol, The Musical" being presented by The Augusta Players on Dec. 14-15.  TODD BENNETT/STAFF
TODD BENNETT/STAFF
Michael Hamilton stars as Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol, The Musical" being presented by The Augusta Players on Dec. 14-15.

“I really think the reason this particular show is such as important tradition is it does help us refocus and become aware of Christmas. We think about true kindness and charitable giving, which is the real meaning of Christmas,” said Ballas, who is directing the Augusta Players’ A Christmas Carol, The Musical.

The holiday classic will be staged at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15, at the Imperial Theatre in Augusta.

Tickets cost $20-$43 from augustaplayers.org or by calling (706) 826-4707.

The Augusta Players have performed renditions of Charles Dickens’ classic tale for several years. At first, they did a nonmusical version; then they moved to the musical, which features songs written by Alan Menken and Lynn Ahrens. Menken also wrote the music to the Disney films, The Little Mermaid and Aladdin. Ahrens won a Tony for her lyrics for the Broadway musical Ragtime.

The quality music, along with the traditional story, combine for a great effect, according to Ballas, who, although she’s seen it played out hundreds of times, never tires of it.

“Nobody has seen it more than I have. It’s still as beautiful to me as the very first day I saw it done. It’s that well-written,” she said.

While there are always new cast members joining this production, Michael Hamilton has played the role of Ebenezer Scrooge several times. Hamilton also appeared as Bob Cratchit and the Ghost of Christmas Present in the nonmusical incarnation.

He tries to keep the character fresh and play out the subtle nuances he’s discovered in Scrooge over the years. He always looks for the places that might make Scrooge seem like a more sympathetic character.

“Some of the big things I’ve looked for are the points in the story where he’s impacted,” Hamilton said.

Scrooge has found himself in the condition he’s in because he’s afraid of ending up like his father, who died in debtors’ prison. His father told Scrooge not to end up penniless like he did.

Hamilton said there’s an “aha” moment for Scrooge when the Ghost of Christmas Present allows him to peer into the window of the Cratchit home. Although the family has little, they are happy. He sees Tiny Tim, who says “God Bless Mr. Scrooge.”

“It really begins to impact him. He thinks about what his life has become and what it could be,” Hamilton said.

ONSTAGE

WHAT: Augusta Players: A Christmas Carol

WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15

WHERE: Imperial Theatre, 749 Broad St.

TICKETS: $20-$43; (706) 826-4707, augustaplayers.org


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