‘A Christmas Carol’ comes to State Theatre this weekend

Posted by on Dec 18, 2015

by Vince Vala, Culpeper Star Exponent

VINCENT VALA/STAR-EXPONENT George Willeman (left) as Scrooge argues with his nephew, Fred, played by Teddy Deal, during a rehearsal for the State Theatre's production of "A Christmas Carol." The play will be staged Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available at the door or through the State Theatre's website for $18.50 to $22.50.

VINCENT VALA/STAR-EXPONENT
George Willeman (left) as Scrooge argues with his nephew, Fred, played by Teddy Deal, during a rehearsal for the State Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol.”

The play is the maiden voyage for the State’s community theater company, The Piedmont Players, said director Steven Barker, who is also the facility’s events and outreach coordinator and fund-raising campaign chairman.

“The first of many, hopefully,” Barker said of the company’s debut.

Barker himself adapted Dickens’ story for this weekend’s presentations.

The play will be staged tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Tickets, which may be purchased at the door or at the State Theatre’s website, run between $18.50 and $22.50 per seat, Baker said. The two-act show runs about two-and-a-half hours and has an intermission.

VINCENT VALA/STAR-EXPONENT "A Christmas Carol" director Steven Baker (front) and actor Tim Carlson check out a fog effect on stage at the State Theatre during rehearsal Wednesday evening.

VINCENT VALA/STAR-EXPONENT
“A Christmas Carol” director Steven Baker (front) and actor Tim Carlson check out a fog effect on stage at the State Theatre during rehearsal Wednesday evening.

The story revolves around Ebenezer Scrooge, played by George Willeman, a miserly elder who is visited by a trio of spirits who attempt to change his attitude toward Christmas — and life in general.

Barker said the Piedmont Players’ initial production has been in the works throughout much of 2015, with casting and rehearsals beginning earlier this fall.

Windmore Foundation for the Arts is a partner is the production and its Stage Works group contributed some set pieces for this weekend’s performances.

Counting carolers and crew members, Barker said there are about 50 people involved in the production, ranging in age from 7 to “retired.”

“This is probably the most rewarding experience I’ve had in my 17 years as a director. We have a cast and crew who have given more than 100 hours of their time to make this the best gift they can to give to the community,” Barker said.

VINCENT VALA/STAR-EXPONENT Rose Allen applies stage makeup to Luke Freitas, who plays one of the Cratchit children in the State Theatre production of "A Christmas Carol," being staged this Friday and Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. at the theater on South Main Street.

VINCENT VALA/STAR-EXPONENT
Rose Allen applies stage makeup to Luke Freitas, who plays one of the Cratchit children in the State Theatre production of “A Christmas Carol.”

“My only regret is we can only present it to about a thousand of the people who live in the town, not to mention the 40,000-plus who live in the county,” he said.

Barker said, if the theater raises the $400,000 needed to continue operating next year, the Piedmont players plan to present “A Christmas Carol” again next December, in addition to at least two other productions during the year.

“I think the essence of the theater is people coming together for a shared visceral experience — to have an emotional experience we can later dialogue about,” Barker said. “The play is about a man who is too miserly and doesn’t give, who learns that it is better to give; I think it is better for people to go out and be a part of the community rather than staying home looking at a screen.”