Longwood offers reader’s theatre version of “A Christmas Carol”

Published 2:28 pm Thursday, November 30, 2023

With Thanksgiving over, Longwood is ready to spread the holiday spirit with a Christmas classic. This weekend, the university’s theatre department will offer a reader’s theatre version of “A Christmas Carol.”

This is a classic Christmas play that many theaters perform this time of year, each a little different than the last. Everyone has their favorite version whether it features The Muppets, Mickey Mouse or George G. Scott. For Longwood, they are sticking close to the classic story but performing it as a reader’s theatre, or what Bruce Speas, the associate professor of theatre, calls a reader’s theater plus.

A typical reader’s theatre has actors read straight from a script and usually have little to no costumes or set design. Even though the performers will be reading from a script most of the time, there will be some staging, lighting, technical and sound to make it more exciting. 

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“We’ve taken some liberties but most of it will be stationary,” said Speas. “The script is the stage version but we’re not fully staging it but there will be some spice added in there.”

For the performance, there are only seven actors. One will play the main role of Ebenezer Scrooge with the rest playing the 41 other characters. 

Why a scaled back show?

One of the reasons for this scaled-back performance is due to the timing of the year. The main production of “Steel Magnolias” took place this year in October before the end of the semester started. Now, students are taking their exams and getting ready to leave for winter break. Having a small cast and smaller production allows for the theater to still do something for the holidays with a special limited run at the end of the year. 

“The idea was for us to do something for the holidays,” said Speas. “We wanted to try not to have a major production and still have a good seller that brings in people to enjoy.”

For those thinking about bringing children to the production, Speas gives the play a PG-13 rating. The rating doesn’t come from crude language, as the worst it gives is a humbug. However, the story has some spooky parts and loud noises that could scare younger children. 

When and where will the reader’s theatre be?

The play is about 90 minutes long with two acts and an intermission. There will be showings at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 1 and Saturday, Dec. 2, and then 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 3, at the CSTAC. There are about 90 seats so tickets are expected to sell out quickly. Tickets are available at longwood.edu/boxoffice.