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Maryland Theatre production of 'A Christmas Carol' gets an update

Maryland Theatre production of 'A Christmas Carol' gets an update

One of Charles Dickens’ classic works is taking on a new spin under the direction of an award-winning theater veteran.

Scott Severance, 59, and his company PerSeverance Productions LLC, will present Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 12, at the Maryland Theatre in downtown Hagerstown.

“You can’t escape the Christmas carols in the mall, you can’t escape them on your radio stations, so it’s an all-consuming holiday and what we try to do with this story is boil it down to a simpler time. It’s just about a man finding the light, rather you’re religious or not, if ever there was a ‘Come to Jesus’ story, is this one,” Severance said during a telephone interview from Morganton, N.C.

Severance, who plays Scrooge, and his production team are now going into their fourth annual national tour of “A Christmas Carol.”

Since the story’s publication in 1843, it is considered as a piece that reflects the purpose of the holiday, according to Severance.

“This version of the story I’m told is very funny,” he said. “When I talk to people after the show, people say that it is much funnier than they thought. In terms of human comedy, we try to make Scrooge a real character and if a ghost visited me in the middle of the night and rattled its chains I’ll be making funny, scary noises, too. So it’s a very funny and spiritual version.”

The magic of the show is largely achieved through a 24-foot-by-12-foot tall projection screen. The back wall of the scenery is a projection screen upon that once the audience walks into the show, they will see London Town Square circa 1840.

With a press of a button, the projection screen changes and then the audience will be inside the character Scrooge’s office, outside again, and then return to his bedroom.

“Without moving a bunch of bulky scenery around, we can whisk the audience from one scene to the other; plus in the projection screen, we’re able to do animation,” Severance said.

There will be 26 Christmas carols that will play throughout the show.

“I worked really hard to find versions of classic Christmas songs that support the action that is happening during the show,” Severance said.

Together with the help of his production team —that consists of 19 crew members, a cast of 14 actors, and five technical people in charge of lights, costumes, sound, and sets — Severance is able to deliver an impactful performance.

“It’s not for the faint of heart. We have 25 shows in 28 days. Some days we do more than one show and some days we don’t have a show at all because we’re traveling a long distance from point A to point B,” Severance said.

“A Christmas Carol” has become an annual tradition for some families who anticipate Severance’s show each year.

“Scrooge is one of the iconic characters in all of English literature and I think the reason why ‘A Christmas Carol’ is such an enduring story is because he is the ultimate redemption story. He is a kind of anti-hero. He’s a terrible man, but he has reasons for being a terrible man,” Severance said.

Ultimately, Severance said Scrooge, “changes from cold and darkness to warmth and light.”

“He discovers those reasons, he changes his ways and he becomes a glorious man so we all love those kind of stories that are about the underdog and the redemption,” Severance said.

He hopes that the show will move people emotionally as well as get them to think critically about Christmas.

“Our goal of the show is to make the audience laugh, cry, think, and reflect on what this holiday is and what it means to them. It’s a family gathering thing and a tradition, so hopefully it helps draw families closer together,” Severance said.

If you go…

WHAT: "A Christmas Carol" 
WHEN: 7:30 to 9:30 p.m.Tuesday, Dec. 12
WHERE: The Maryland Theatre, 21 S. Potomac St., downtown Hagerstown
COST: $19 to $39
CONTACT: Go to www.mdtheatre.org or call 301-790-2000

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