Tonawanda News

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December 4, 2013

Christmas tradition on stage at Ghostlight

Ghostlight Theatre presents 'A Christmas Carol'

Tonawanda News — Twenty-eight years after it first graced the Ghostlight Theatre stage, “A Christmas Carol” will return to the theater this week with Charles Dickens’ classic tale of four ghosts — and the bitter, holiday-hating miser whose journey is at the heart of the story.

The play opens Thursday and runs through Dec. 15 at the theater, 170 Schenck St., North Tonawanda. L. Don Swartz adapted and directs the show, as well as takes the stage himself as Ebenezer Scrooge, the aforementioned miser who has been played on stage and on film through the years by everyone from Alastair Sim and George C. Scott to Patrick Stewart and Jim Carrey.

Swartz has played the role each time “A Christmas Carol” has run at Ghostlight, about 14 times over the years. Over the time, he’s developed a respect for Scrooge, whom he calls a very complex character.

“I think over the years you realize he’s a real person,” Swartz said. “Some people play him like a cartoon character, all black and white. But all the things that happened to him at Christmastime ... he has a very good reason for hating the holiday.

“You start with that and try the rip the layers off to his humanity. He’s been hurt so many times that he just wants nothing to do with anyone. He’s a prime candidate for someone who needs redemption ... once he realizes he can reach out and make a difference.”

In recent years, the show has run in a three-year rotation during December at Ghostlight with “All Through the Night” and “It’s a Wonderful Life.” While the core of Swartz’s adaptation remains the same, he said elements of it change each year, as they tinker with story, characters and scenes.

“We tweak it every time we come back,” he said. “It’s evolved over 28 years. The heart of it we have come to like over the years we leave in, the things we don’t like as much we change.

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