Running this weekend through Dec. 22 is the Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol.”
A Frederick holiday tradition, “A Christmas Carol” is in its 19th year and still directed by the original director and associate artistic director at Maryland Ensemble Theatre, Julie Herber.
Herber helped develop the show — based on Charles Dickens’ 19th-century novel about the bitter Ebenezer Scrooge and his transformation as a result of visits from the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Yet to Come — nearly 20 years ago as the co-founder of the now-defunct theater ensemble Theatrics.
Since joining Maryland Ensemble Theatre, Herber has continued to direct the production.
“It’s very fitting for Maryland Ensemble Theatre because it’s very much an ensemble piece,” Herber says.
Every member of the “Christmas Carol” cast, with the exception of Tad Janes, returning in his 10th year as Scrooge, and Rahni Huff and Cali Cammarata, who play Tiny Tim, portray a number of different roles.
“The actors in the ensemble bring a multitude of characters to life,” Herber says.
“All of the ensemble becomes the narrator and breaks out into characters that Scrooge comes across during the evening,” adds Gené Fouché, starring as The Ghost of Christmas Past. “I think ensemble pieces are stronger because the actors on stage are more connected ... [they] tend to stay on stage for much of the action.”
While the story-telling technique may be unique, when it comes to the “Christmas Carol” text, Herber says she remained true to Dickens.
“It’s very faithful to Dickens’ text,” Herber says. “Using those words and adding movement ... it’s just a really lovely story.”
Many members of the “Christmas Carol” cast, like Janes and Fouché, are returning Maryland Ensemble actors who do the show every year. But Janes says performing the show never gets old.
“Every October I wonder if I want to do it again and then I read through the story ... it’s a pretty remarkable [play], so as an actor, it’s a lot of fun to get into.”
“I never get tired of the story,” Fouché adds. “It’s just something you can fall back into and be really comfortable with.”
Audiences haven’t grown tired of the Maryland Ensemble Theatre’s “A Christmas Carol,” either.
“We definitely see repeat patrons joining us year after year,” Herber says. “There’s nothing like the experience of sitting in a theater, especially like the Weinberg that has such a warm feeling to it ... it’s really a spectacular holiday experience.”
The “Christmas Carol” experience also has grown into somewhat of a Frederick community tradition over the past 20 years.
“There’s something wonderful that Frederick has ‘The Nutcracker’ and then ‘A Christmas Carol’ the week later,” Fouché says.
But perhaps more than anything, what keeps actors and audiences alike coming back to “A Christmas Carol” year after year, is that the show is timeless.
“It’s so relevant,” Fouché says.
“It’s a reminder that we all need once in a while,” Herber adds.
“Everyone is so busy and so stressed and it’s really about finding that love in your heart. It never hurts to be reminded of that ... slow down, stop, pay attention to one another.”