Children's theater puts new spin on 'A Christmas Carol'

Friday, November 20, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

COLUMBIA — Charles Dickens' holiday classic, "A Christmas Carol," gets a new twist in a current production of "Scrooge! The Musical."

The show by Theater Reaching Young People and Schools opens Friday at Columbia College's Launer Auditorium.

If you go

What: "Scrooge! The Musical"

When: 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, and 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Launer Auditorium at Columbia College, Tenth and Rogers streets

Tickets: $3 to $7

Information: Call 449-4536 or visit

"Music can really tell a story so much better sometimes than words because of the tone of the music," choreographer Tammy Walker said.

Director Jill Womack said the music helps make the story not as dark as the original version.

"It's really dark," she said. "It borders on being inappropriate for younger children. I wanted to mix it up because most people aren't familiar with this version. You can tell the story of how mean and nasty (Scrooge) is in a fun song."

Womack said she also chose to use a "dark lady" instead of a grim reaper to represent the Ghost of Christmas Future in order to make the show more suitable for children.

Many of the children in the show play multiple parts, such as partygoers or street urchins.

"I love doing that for the kids because they really get a sense of building a character," Womack said. "It helps the actors to engage themselves in different roles and challenge themselves.

"They learn how to connect and build different relationships with different actors. I think it makes them a closer cast."

Walker said they try to let the kids do as many things as possible in the show.

"We want to see them onstage as much as possible because it's no fun hanging out backstage," she said.

TRYPS is a children's theater that puts children from kindergarten through 12th grade in theater classes, camps, workshops and productions.

"Theater itself really helps kids build their self-confidence and self-esteem," Walker said. "It builds teamwork skills because theater's like any other sport in that respect — it's teamwork."

Womack said working with children is the same as working with professional actors but takes a little bit longer.

"They're just as good, they're just as talented, but they're just really new and learning how they rehearse and what they need to do to rehearse," she said. "It's twice as long and twice as fun."

"Scrooge! The Musical" features an all-children cast, with the exception of three professional actors who play Ebenezer Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas Present and Mr. Fezziwig.

"It has a really gorgeous array of talent and ages, and all of them working great together really knits together a great show," Womack said.


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