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Student actors to give window performances of holiday classic

Parkwood Middle School students Melody Howe (left) will play Jacob Marley, while Dianna LaTerra will play Ebenezer Scrooge. Performances are to happen in seven storefronts in downtown Waxhaw. (Photo courtesy of Nicole DePietro)

The windows of seven storefronts in downtown Waxhaw will soon come alive with the sights and sounds of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” as student actors from Parkwood Middle School perform scenes from the classic holiday tale.

Seventeen student performers will present seven different scenes from a scripted adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” by area playwright Judy Simpson Cook.

The scenes will tell the story of Ebenezer Scrooge’s holiday epiphany, beginning with his miserly refusal of all things Christmas and ending with his dramatic, soul-saving transformation.

“This is something we’ve been involved in for the past several years,” Parkwood Middle drama teacher Nicole DePietro said. “The idea is if you went to every window, you will get the story of ‘A Christmas Carol’ through the selection of scenes that give you a basic idea of the story.”

Performances will take place from 5:30 to 8 p.m. in conjunction with Waxhaw’s First Friday event, slated for Friday, Dec. 5.

The student actors will perform their scenes every 15 minutes, giving browsers an opportunity to see the story play out at various times throughout the evening.

The first scene, in which Scrooge turns down his nephew’s invitation to a Christmas gathering, will take place at Prestige Properties, located at 108 E. South Main St.

Six more downtown Waxhaw storefronts will host the six additional scenes: Scrooge’s refusal to donate to charity; his encounter with the ghost of Jacob Marley; one scene each from Christmas Past, Present and Future; and his transformation from a cold, hateful miser to a caring, loving man.

“You see the new man Scrooge has become and how this experience has really changed him – all the moments that have really changed him in the story,” DePietro said.

The students are all eighth-graders and members of the Junior Thespian Honor Society at Parkwood Middle.

The cast began rehearsing about a month ago, and DePietro said the most challenging aspect of the production for students has been the dialogue used in the script. “It is still written in a way that very much reflects Charles Dickens’ language in the text,” DePietro said.

Another challenge for students has been the fact that they won’t be performing on stage like they would in a typical play –they’ll be performing right in front of their audience, which DePietro said forces students to work harder at staying in character.

For 13-year-old performer and student Abigail Ball, performing in a nontraditional venue has been a welcome change. “I guess (the challenge is) staying in character and not getting distracted because you’ll have a lot of people coming in,” said Abigail, who will play the role of Fred, Scrooge’s nephew.

But, in a certain way, Abigail said the change makes her feel more comfortable. “Because I don’t know these people, I have nothing to lose, so it’s easier for me.”

Thirteen-year-old student performer Carolyn Daly will take on the role of a “charity woman” and said it’s also been a challenge to stay in character. “I just try and focus on what is going on and what the character wants and the obstacles they face,” Carolyn said, adding her favorite aspect of being involved in the production is the opportunity to perform for the community with her friends.

DePietro said visitors to downtown Waxhaw on Friday can expect to be inspired by the students’ performances, as well as encounter a dose of holiday spirit.

“I think it’s really cool for (the students) to be able to get out in the community and perform for people who they don’t know or have a personal relationship with,” she said. “It’s nice for the community to see how talented kids in eighth grade can be.”

Written by: Josh Whitener from Union County Weekly
Posted: Dec 04, 2014 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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