Carroll County Times

Scrooge, Tiny Tim return as part of stage adaptation of Dickens classic

The cast of "A Christmas Carol" is shown. The Maryland Ensemble Theatre is performing the play today and Saturday at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster.

During the final weekend before Christmas, Tad Janes will be in a familiar spot.

He will be on stage wearing a white wig performing as grumpy Ebenezer Scrooge in the Maryland Ensemble Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol" at the Carroll Arts Center in Westminster. Performances are 8 tonight and 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday.

The on-stage production is based on the 1843 Charles Dickens tale where the miserly Scrooge is visited by three ghosts who help him realize the benefits of benevolence.

For much of the cast, performing in "A Christmas Carol" has become part of their December holiday rituals. Janes, the artistic director for the Maryland Ensemble Theatre, is in his 10th consecutive year portraying the penny-pinching Scrooge.

"Each year, it puts us in the Christmas spirit," he said.

The Maryland Ensemble Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" production is an institution in Frederick, where it is performed annually at the Weinberg Center.

After finishing its run there last weekend, the show is once again returning to Carroll, where it is among the final holiday-related entertainment events prior to Christmas.

Gene Fouche, a McDaniel College lecturer, is in her ninth year as the Ghost of Christmas Past. She relishes her role as a spiritual taskmaster that sets Scrooge on his journey of self discovery.

"I try to make my movements slower than I would as a human," she said. "I try to make it appear that she is floating along the stage."

"A Christmas Carol" is regularly performed in community theater and in high schools. It's been adapted for radio, opera and ballets. Even Jim Henson's Muppets took on the Dickens tale with Kermit the Frog as Bob Cratchit.

Yet this is the lone opportunity to catch "A Christmas Carol" on stage in Carroll before Christmas.

Julie Herber has directed this production 18 out of the last 19 years. She compares each year's show to adding new ornaments to a familiar Christmas tree. The tale does not change. Many of the actors are familiar with their roles.

Children are brought into the performances each year to play some of the minor roles. After rehearsals to get everyone up to speed, the show returns to the stage in two different stages each December, Scrooge, ghosts, Tiny Tim and all.

"It would be disappointing for me to have a December without 'A Christmas Carol,'" Herber said. "I never get tired of the story."