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Stage play brings area families together


Jennifer Ninds and son Michael, of Howard City, are two family members that are enjoying working on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

A Christmas Carol debuts at the Kent Theatre Dec. 9

Christmas is certainly a time when most people gather with family and friends for fun and frivolity. Families look for creative ways to enjoy the tidings of the season. Some volunteer their time at a soup kitchen, some might wander their neighborhood streets singing Christmas carols and some might hop in the car one evening and drive miles just to look at thousands of Christmas lights.
But, for a small group of people in northern Kent County, they’ve chosen to celebrate their Christmas holidays by taking to the stage. The cast and crew of “The Christmas Carol,” which numbers well over 40, is comprised largely of people who just happen to be related to each other.
The production director boasts that it’s truly a family affair.
“It’s wonderful to see so many families involved in such a fashion,” said Terri Riggle, production stage director. “They’re having fun and spending a lot of time together in a worthwhile project.”
Ebenezer Scrooge is played by Rockford’s Virgil Hubbard, and his wife, Kathleen, who’s making her acting debut on the Kent Theatre stage, is playing the wife of the character Fred, Scrooge’s nephew. Cedar Springs resident Russ Cole, who is Bob Cratchit, is also given singing direction under the guidance of his wife Carolee, who’s the production’s music director. Laura Johnson, who plays Christmas Present, also enjoys being on stage with her son, Tom, who plays Young Scrooge.
And the list continues. There are two mother and daughter combinations, Judy and BreAnna Schulz of Howard City and Eva Walters and her daughter, Mystic also from Howard City. Then there’s the Price family, all from Cedar Springs, who have four out of their five members involved in the play. Jon, the father, is playing dual roles of Mr. Fezziwig and the Ghost of Christmas Future; his wife, Tammy, is Mrs. Fezziwig; son Jordan is Dick Wilkins; and daughter Grace is Martha Cratchit.
Then there’s the sister and brother combination of Leah and Andrew Woltansus, from Kent City, who are playing the Ghost of Christmas Past and Peter Cratchit, respectively. Howard City resident Jennifer Nind is the production stage assistant and mother to Michael, who is playing the Young Errand Boy. Cedar Springs resident Scott Phillips plays ghoulish Jacob Marley, and his wife Dani is a special effects and lighting technician.
“This production promises to be an engaging evening of live stage performances, which includes not only acting, but singing and a little dancing thrown in just for fun,” Riggle said. “Bring your family. There’s no better way to start the holiday season than seeing this Christmas classic brought to life.”
Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” adapted by Brian Way and produced through special arrangements with Baker’s Plays and the Cedar Springs Theatre Association, will be opening Friday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 on the Kent Theatre stage in downtown Cedar Springs. The production runs through Dec. 11 with performances at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, the 10th, and a final matinee at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 11. Tickets are $8 for adults and $4 for kids 11 and under. They’re available at the Cedar Springs Public Library or by calling 616-696-0949 or 616-696-SHOW or before each performance at the Kent Theatre box office, which opens at 7 p.m. for evening performances and at 1:30 p.m. for matinee performances.

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