The East Texas Baptist University Theatre Arts Department celebrated the holiday season with the performance of A Christmas Carol, a musical adaption for the stage of the story by Charles Dickens, at the Marshall Convention Center on Thursday, November 29 through Sunday, December 2. Directed by ETBU Associate Professor John Dement, the 31-person ensemble and 12-person pit orchestra consisted of University students, faculty, staff, and children from the Marshall community.
“Early in the creative process for the show, I came across Colossians 1:9-14. Dickens’ story immediately became an illustration of the lengths our Lord will go to save a soul,” Dement shared. “Everyone has fond memories of A Christmas Carol. The fact that everyone carries a little bit of this classic was both a comfort and a challenge. Whatever version we would have presented would be viewed through a lens of nostalgia. Our current production had a lot to live up to, and it was our goal to meet the audience’s expectations. It has been my pleasure to work with such a talented group of music directors, designers, technicians, performers, and musicians.”
First published in 1843, the novella recounts the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, an unhappy and unlikable elderly man, who is visited by the ghost of his former business partner and the spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come. ETBU freshman Criminal Justice major Joshua Bumpas portrayed Bob Cratchit, an employee of Scrooge’s.
“What Dickens originally wrote translates well onto the stage, especially the more ghostly aspects of the show,” Bumpas commented. “I love this story, and I’ve seen many adaptations. The story never gets old, and I enjoy the nostalgia of it. As Scrooge learns in the show, remembering the past can help us learn lessons about the future, leading to redemption.”
During a visit with Christmas Past, Scrooge realizes how greed consumed him as he witnesses an exchange between himself as a young man, depicted by ETBU senior Theatre major Drew Frazier, and his former fiancé, Belle, portrayed by ETBU sophomore Worship Studies major Haley Harmening.
“Scrooge’s redemption is so prominent, and I think it parallels with how our lives take a new direction after salvation through Jesus Christ,” Harmening shared. “This story is brilliant in showing the transformation of a person, who let an idol control their life and how he had to let go of it to understand the meaning of joy, giving, and the purpose of life.”
In addition to his roles as Young Scrooge and Undertaker’s Man, Frazier also served as the Lighting Designer for the production. According to Frazier, the musical allowed him to grow both personally and professionally.
“An important life lesson that A Christmas Carol teaches is that human kindness and benevolence are essential components to a happy life,” Frazier commented. “I think a show like A Christmas Carol takes a strong cast full of Christian people to adequately get the message of the musical across. I like to think that my faith had a part in that.”
The ETBU Theatre Department will be performing A Christmas Carol on November 30 at 7:30 p.m., and on December 1 and 2 at 2:30 p.m. General admission is $15 or free with an ETBU I.D. Tickets are available at the door or online at www.etbu.edu/theatre.