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Classic Christmas story

A holiday classic, with a musical twist, opens a six-show run at 7 p.m., Friday, at the Sierra Pines Church at Highway 49, and Covey Court.

A cast of 50 (age five to 85) will present six performances of the Holiday classic “A Christmas Carol - A New Musical,” directed by Heather Sconce, with book and lyrics by Keith Ferguson and music by Bruce Greer. The musical is written by the same duo who wrote last year’s stunning production of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” also directed by Sconce.

“Keith Ferguson and Bruce Greer have created a new musical adaptation of Charles Dickens’ 1843 Novella that is faithful to Dickens’ plot and prose, while highlighting both the spiritual and social themes woven throughout this Christmas classic,” Sconce said. “The score has many original songs written in a traditional musical theater style, while integrating familiar carols and songs of Christmas that audiences will recognize.”

Brandon Mallard, 34, of Visalia, will play Ebenezer Scrooge in the show.

“Brandon drives all the way from Visalia every week to play the role of Ebenezer Scrooge,” Sconce said. “He is dedicated and extremely talented, and I am very blessed to get to work with him.”

Mallard took to acting as a youngster, entertaining friends and family impersonating his favorite cartoon characters, and actors from movies and television.

“I didn’t seriously consider pursuing acting until high school,” Mallard said. “Some of my ‘ah-ha’ moments came when I got involved in high school drama productions, receiving some really positive feedback from my peers and teacher.”

Mallard said as he grew up he’s been able to do stage work, and has appeared in a couple movies.

“I have always been able to find my way back into some project or program that allows me to stretch my acting muscles again,” Mallard said.

As of late, most of his acting opportunities come from performing as superheroes, and pirates for families and children through his own business, “Party Hero.”

Mallard calls playing Scrooge his first “heavyweight” lead role.

“Scrooge is the perfect part to stretch my skills because the role is a culmination of my performing talents,” Mallard said. “I have to impersonate a character far different from myself, be funny, be dramatic, sing, connect with the audience, convey some profound messages, and do it all while staying on stage virtually the whole time. When Heather put out the word that the role of Scrooge was going to be a Shakespearean task, I pictured an aged, veteran actor, who had already done multiple roles of the kind. I knew it was not going to be a simple task, and the fact that I was one of the few to be considered for the role. I’m truly humbled that she saw the potential in me.

The message of ultimate sacrifice that serves as a time of ultimate joy, fully realized in an individual who goes from being hateful to joyful, is one of the greatest modern stories to be told. Additionally, the fact that I have had the privilege of doing this production with some truly awesome people, who are as talented and fun as they are genuine and gracious, to me is also one the greatest highlights in recent years. I would be disappointed if I was not able to come back again and serve with them.

Elisa Heidebrecht, an 11-year-old sixth grader at Mountain Home School, plays Tiny Tim in the show, along side her father, Bob Heidebrecht, who plays Bob Cratchit.

“It’s fun that my character, Tiny Tim, is well-known to others, and it’s been cool my stage dad is my real dad, so we are able to get in extra rehearsal time at home,” Elisa said.

“The Cratchit family is at the heart of the play,” Bob said. “It’s neat to see how our stage family has grown together, as we portray the wide range of emotions the Cratchit’s experience. What makes it even more fun is that I get to act with my daughter as part of that family.”

Sconce can hardly wait for the community to come see the “incredible team” that has come together for this production.

“I am so honored to be a part of a community event that brings joy to not only the people who come to see the show, but to those who are involved as well,” Sconce said.

Sconce’s co-star from last year’s production of “It’s A Wonderful Life,” Jordan Michel, is serving as assistant director for “A Christmas Carol,” and Sconce is guaranteeing a show that the community will love.

“Jordan and I work really well together and our collaborative minds have created something I know audiences will love, and they will leave feeling brighter, lighter, and ready for the Christmas season,” Sconce said. “The music is phenomenal and the show breathes new life into a story that has been done in so many different ways throughout the years.”

Craig Friesen of Friesen Construction and Matt Van de Wal have built a two-story set.

“The set is beautiful and really invites people into the setting of the story,” Sconce said. “The set will leave people speechless.”

The show will be presented at 7 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays (Dec. 4, 5, 11, 12), and 2 p.m. on Sundays (Dec. 6 and 13). The 2 p.m., Dec. 6 show is sold out.

Doors open one hour before each performance with carolers greeting attendees in the church lobby. The church is located at the corner of Highway 49 and Covey Court.

Tickets for the show cost $14 for general admission, $12 for seniors, and $10 for children (10 and under).

“My hope for audiences is that they come into this show with hearts open and ready to receive an incredible message of hope and joy, amidst a time that is often hard for some,” Sconce said. “Music and theater sometimes have a way of reaching into someones heart and soul, in a way that other things cannot. Join Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Bob Cratchit, and other characters as Scrooge comes face to face with destiny, darkness and second chances.”

Details: Heather Sconce, Sierra Pines Church, (559) 683-2882. Tickets: buychristmascaroltickets.com.

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