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'Tis the season for Unity's 'A Christmas Carol'

The third year of Unity Theater's annual "A Christmas Carol" production promises to be the best yet.

"It's sort of a labor of love for everybody," said Gary Schwartz, theater manager. "We've developed over the years a real nice ensemble."

Schwartz - who produced and directed the show and plays Ebenezer Scrooge - leads a cast of 23 performers, many who appeared in past productions of the show. The play runs for four weekends beginning Friday, Dec. 1.

The production is based on the adaptation of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" by Peter Sills. The play combines readings from the original text of Dickens' 1843 classic novella, with performers acting out scenes.

"Obviously, it's just a perfect fit for the [Unity] theater," Schwartz said. Schwartz teaches acting classes using an acting method pioneered by his mentor, Viola Spolin, who founded the Second City improvisational theater company in Chicago in the 1950s. Sills is her son.

The production brings to life the favorite holiday tale that is arguably the most-adapted non-biblical Christmas story.

At its center is Ebenezer Scrooge, the surviving partner of Scrooge and Marley - a business that places profit above all else. On Christmas Eve, Scrooge is his usual miserly self - chasing off solicitors for the poor; chastising his sole employee, Bob Cratchit (Rob Boose), for wanting to take off Christmas Day and insulting his nephew Fred for celebrating a holiday that "has never put a penny in anyone's pocket." But that night, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his dead partner Marley (Ed Benson) and three spirits (Lesleyann Schecterson, Tony Dambrava and Sean Stone) who show him the desolate path he has chosen and offer him a chance to correct his ways.

It is a story that continues to touch hearts, no matter how often it has been seen.

Schwartz said Unity Theater hopes to build the production into an annual Valley tradition. So far, it seems to have caught on. Shows tend to sell out midway through the run, so tickets should be bought early to guarantee a seat, Schwartz said.

Unity Theater is a nonprofit community theater located at 119 North Bend Way, North Bend on the second floor of the Masonic Hall above Singletrack Cycles. The theater is a fully active performing arts venue with an intimate setting that seats 80.

Cast members include: Abbie Grimstad, Rebekah McFarland, Sarah McCollum, Alex Schecterson, Natalie Copeland, Gary Schwartz, Rob Boose, Sean Stone, Bill Stone, Craig Ewing, Haley Prins, Sidney Prins, Brian Milligan, Gus Grimstad, Karen Nelson, Ed Benson, Andrew Heinz, Kelly Heinz, Forrest Heinz, Lesleyann Schecterson, Anthony Dambrava, Conner Bloyd, Becky Rappin and Sheila Strehle.

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