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'A Christmas Carol' opens at Manchester's Palace

MANCHESTER - For the 12th straight year, one of the most enduring of Christmas stories will command attention at the Palace Theatre, which will present an adaptation of "A Christmas Carol" using local and New York actors and plenty of New Hampshire school children.

"It is one of the largest productions in New Hampshire," said theater spokeswoman Kerri Christopher. "This is the 12th annual show, we have more than doubled the number of performances. It's a traditional favorite that people like to take their kids and grandchildren to."

The local production features a six-piece orchestra, hundreds of Victorian-era costumes, more than 80 wigs and a set that takes 10 people three days to assemble.

About half the performers are chosen in auditions locally and the other half in professional auditions in New York.

The production includes more than 150 school children from throughout New Hampshire. Many of the children perform in the background or in groups of Christmas carolers seen throughout the performance.

Four students play the role of Tiny Tim Cratchit, the ailing youngster who serves to dramatize the changes in Ebenezer Scrooge brought on by his visits from the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

Alexander Roy of Salem, Tank Blanchette of Manchester, Sam Henry of New Boston and Broden McCune of Hooksett are each scheduled to appear in the role.

Children will also be interchanged as background actors and chorus members throughout the production.

Performance versions of "A Christmas Carol" have been performed in a variety of media and genres, in film and in live performances ranging from mime to opera to cartoons.

Each adaptation brings something different to the 179-year-old work, and the Palace Theatre production has its own elements.

"People come to expect a classic, but one of the things we do is digital enhancement - the ghost comes in and flies toward the stage," Christopher said.

Performances include carolers in the lobby in period dress and ushers dressed as they were in more elegant times.

"We try to provide a sort of holiday feeling in the theater," Christopher said.

The show opened Friday night and runs through Dec. 23. Performances are Friday, Saturday and Thursday nights at 7:30 p.m. with matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

In addition, several performances have been scheduled on Thursday and Friday mornings specifically for school groups.

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