Drama group promises fun for the family with 'A Christmas Carol'

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit and Dickens' quartet of holiday ghosts will bring a classic tale to town this weekend when the Mount Airy Players present "A Christmas Carol."

The family-oriented play will be held at 8 p.m. today and tomorrow on stage at Twin Ridge Elementary School, 1109 Leafy Hollow Circle, in Mount Airy.

The production is being sponsored by the Twin Ridge Elementary Parent Teacher Association and features an optional fried chicken and Italian pasta dinner at 6:30 p.m. both nights, catered by Christi's Restaurant of Mount Airy.

Holiday music and decor will add to the festive feeling of the production, said producer Charles Beck, a longtime member of the local drama group. Fourth- and fifth-grade choral students at Twin Ridge, under the direction of Kay Wise, will set the mood for the drama with traditional Christmas carols "to fit in with the period," he said. "It's going to be a good show."

The Mount Airy Players are thankful for the opportunity to perform at Twin Ridge Elementary, which offers a good stage and lighting and amplification capabilities.

"It's the best facility we've had," said Mr. Beck.

From the great turnout of adults and children for auditions to continuing support from all over, this production by the Mount Airy Players has been blessed.

"I think it's because the 'Christmas Carol' is so well known -- there're kids in the play and [parents can] bring the kids to the play," said director Robin Hanselman. "We had people come from all over -- New Windsor, Sykesville, New Market [to audition]."

Community support for the play stretches to Gaithersburg, where Mrs. Hanselman is employed at Professional Mechanical Systems. She said an associated sheet metal firm, Bilmin Co., created a cash box, keys and chains for play props and donated plastic foam for the tombstones. Its lighting vendor donated black lights for the special effects. Her husband, Scott, is doing the lighting for the play and her boss, Tony Nagle, is "the sound guy."

"Everyone who knows me has pitched in somehow," she said.

The production, which features a cast of 20, requires a large stage crew because of the many props and scene changes. Helen Simpson, one of the founding members of the Mount Airy Players, is adding her expertise as costume designer.

Mrs. Hanselman said the biggest challenge has been "doing a classic and having it live up to the expectations of what it should be." She is most pleased by the "overwhelming feeling that people will be touched by the play."

"This will definitely turn any bah-humbug around," she added.

The play's nine short scenes will be interspersed with narration by Nicole LaCroix. It features the talents of M. Ellis as Scrooge; Rick Alexander as Bob Cratchit and the Ghost of Jacob Marley; John Fitzpatrick as the Collector and the Ghost of Christmas Present; Liz Ellis as the Ghost of Christmas Past; Vivian LaCroix as the Ghost of Christmas Future; and Sean Fitzpatrick as Tiny Tim. Mr. Beck will play Fred and young Scrooge; and Mrs. Hanselman will play young Scrooge's fiancee.

Tickets for the play only will be sold at the door both nights at $5 for adults, $4 for senior citizens, and $3 for children 12 years and younger.

For dinner reservations, call (301) 831-0349 or (301) 829-1527. The cost of dinner and the show is $15 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $8.50 for children.

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Kris Kringle will begin his five-day reign at Santa Claus Lane in Mount Airy on Monday evening with a roar.

The jolly fellow dressed in his traditional holiday garb -- and a helmet -- will arrive at the local replica of his North Pole village on a Harley Davidson motorcycle. He will receive visitors in his cozy Mount Airy bungalow from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Dec. 10.

His home is just one of many holiday scenes featured at Santa Claus Lane, on the Firemen's Carnival Grounds, Route 27 and Twin Arch Road, Mount Airy.

Children and their families are invited to tour the frosty fantasy land for free, compliments of the Mount Airy Lions Club. From a gingerbread house to the reindeer stable, story book sites and twinkling lights will delight visitors.

The project, which was the idea of John Lewis of Damascus, began in 1977 as a gift to area children from the Mount Airy Lions Club. Through the years, Santa Claus Lane has brought smiles to thousands of wide-eyed youngsters.

The Lions devote time and resources to keep the displays in good repair and the Mount Airy Jaycees are helping the Lions with the project, according to Lions Club President Jay Fulmer.

Last year, the location was changed from the municipal parking lot to the carnival grounds, which offers more protection from inclement weather. "A lot of the buildings have been refurbished," said Mr. Fulmer. "It should be a really nice Santa Claus Lane."

Visitors are reminded to stop by the miniature Swiss chalet for a complimentary cup of hot chocolate. The North Pole telephone company will be working overtime to enable children to chat "long distance" with Mrs. Claus.

Another must is a visit to the North Pole Train Station, where a model train display will be presented by Walt Dennison of Trackside Hobbies in Mount Airy.

Donations, which are optional, will go to the Lions Club's Christmas Food Baskets for the Needy project, according to Mr. Fulmer.

Information: (301) 829-LION.

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Nurture your holiday spirit and do a good deed at the same time by taking a short trek to historic New Market on Sunday.

The antique-lovers' paradise will hold its annual "Old-Fashioned Christmas" celebration, and the 1994 New Market Historic House and Church Tour will run concurrently from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Doors of eight festively decorated homes and three beautiful churches will open wide to tour participants to help raise dollars for Hospice of Frederick County Inc.

The houses, all on Main Street in New Market, represent an array of architecture that includes the late Federal, Victorian and post-modern periods. Hospice volunteers will be available at each stop to answer questions.

Tickets for the self-guided tour cost $10 per person and may be purchased beginning at 12:30 p.m. on the day of the tour at National Pike Inn Bed and Breakfast, 9 W. Main St.

Information: (301) 694-6444.

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Pancake Day at Mount Airy's Prospect United Methodist Church is an all-you-can-eat flapjack and sausage breakfast you can enjoy from 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The annual event, which also features chicken platters served from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will be held in the church's social hall adjacent to the church, on Woodville Road near Mount Airy in Frederick County.

Adults will pay $4 for an all-you-can-eat breakfast or $5 for a chicken platter. Children who are 5 to 8 years old eat for $2 each for either meal and children 4 years and younger eat free.

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Freshly cut trees of fir and pine await purchasers at Boy Scout Troop 460's 1994 Christmas Tree Sale.

HTC The annual fund-raiser is being held at the lot adjacent to Four County Exxon, on Route 27 south of Mount Airy. The lot will be open evenings and weekends through Christmas Eve.

Purchases will help the Scouts fund troop activities for the coming year.

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