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By BECKY BARCLAY Audiences who have seen Center Stage Theatre's "A Christmas Carol" in past years are in for a surprise this year, as the play has been turned into a comedy. This is Center Stage's 10th year of per- forming the play in Wayne County. The group has done "A Christmas Carol" for a while, but was using scripts already out there and paying royalties. And they were not allowed to make changes in these scripts. After David Weil asked CST to make "A Christmas Carol" an annual tradition, the group wanted its own script. So Nathan Bradshaw, who now lives in Arizona, wrote one just for the group. "This year we looked to see what could be done that really hadn't been done before," said Keith Parris, director of this year's play, who turned it into a comedy. "I thought one thing we have never really tapped into is the humor in this show. We always had a few points that had brought some laughs. But to really make that an emphasis of the show, that's something we've never really done. With this being our 10th anniversary, we really wanted to do something special." Parrish and assistant director Heath Radford went through the script page by page and looked for spots where they could add moments of humor. "We noticed that there were places that we could put music into it as a humorous thing, but not make it a musical," Parrish said. "There's one point where Scrooge has traveled back in time to his past and sees little boys playing in the snow throwing snowballs at each other. One of the boys is going to say, 'Do you want to build a snowman' and the other is going to say, 'Oh, let it go.' "Then we have piano player over on the side of the stage who's going to start playing the song 'Let It Go' from the movie 'Frozen' and the boys are going to throw a snowball at him." The audience will also see a new character this year, Cuthbert. But it will be a surprise what he does. This year's Scrooge will be local attorney Geoff Hulse. It's his first time of being in "A Christmas Carol." "I tried out for Jacob Marley," he said. "I was on vacation and they called me and told me they were offering me a part, but not the part I want- ed. It was Scrooge." Hulse considers Scrooge an interesting guy. "One minute he's this complete jerk and then he's kind of catching his story go before his eyes and tries to beg his way out of things," he said. "At the end after the visits from the ghosts, he's reborn. And really, that's what is such a good Christmas show to me. "You take some old guy that's beat down by life and things have gone wrong, and he gets another chance in life to be a good guy. And he takes advantage of it." Hulse considers the part exciting. And he likes the message of the play. "I think we all have bad days and bad weeks," he said. "You got to turn those around. Scrooge has had a bad life, and he is just not a very lik- able person. He's mean to his nephew and his employees. He could care less about his com- munity. By the end though, he's all bought in to get as much love as he can." Thomas Mar- tin Mejia plays a young Scrooge. He wanted that part because it was a different role for him. To get into character, he goes to a quiet place and psychs himself up. This is the second year that Mejia and his mother are doing "A Christ- mas Carol." "We are very close and we love acting, movies and the theater," he said. "It just makes it special for me and my mother. It's kind of like Christmas at home for us." Hulse's daughter, Hallie Hulse Evans, will be Christmas Past this year. "I didn't really know what role I wanted," she said. "I just made a deal with my dad that if he auditioned, I would audition. It's not very com- mon that you see women in the roles of the ghosts. So I was shocked to get it. I'm excited about getting the part, too." When she first started rehearsing the role, Evans said it was somber and she got a little bored. "But then they said I could put a little more pep into it," she said. "They told me to model the character after Tinker Bell, so I actually watched 'Peter Pan' and got my husband to watch it with me. "It gives me a better appreciation for Christ- mas. This is my first time on the stage in more than three years, and I'm nervous. But I'm defi- nitely in the Christmas spirit now, ready to go shopping, get a tree." Michael Corbitt will be Christmas Present, a role he definitely wanted. "I love Christmas Present, and the costume's really cool," he said. "He reminds me more of Santa in a way. He has the cool robe and it's lined with fur. He's got that wonderful headpiece and the makeup is fun. "And he has that boisterous laugh. He also has these wonderful moments where he gets angry with Scrooge, but then he's really matter of fact with him." This year, Christmas Present is southern. To get into the part, Corbitt has been playing with different voices, singing different songs in a southern dialect. "I think the play kind of helps you appreciate Christmas and get in the Christ- mas spirit," he said. Luis Blanco will be Jacob Marley. "His character is so complicated," he said. "There are so many different levels of him at times. It's like he's at battle with himself, but he's also trying to get Scrooge away from where he ended up." Blanco likes to try chang- ing his voice depending on what mood he's try- ing to portray at the time. He can be very somber and quiet, add a spiritual sound to his voice at other times and when it's time for Marley's anger to come out, the raspiness comes out in his voice. Center Stage Theatre will perform "A Christmas Carol" Dec. 8 and 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 10 at 3 p.m. at the Paramount The- atre. Tickets are $15 and $18, available at the Paramount box office, by calling 919-583-8432 or online at In Center Stage's 10th year of performing the Christmas classic, the play will have a new twist. This year, it has been turned into a comedy. Thursday, November 23, 2017 Goldsboro News-Argus — 5 Gifts, Decor & More! 3415 E. Ash Street, Goldsboro Small Business Saturday: November 25 Special Hours: 9am-6pm 25% off an item of your choice! (*excludes furniture*) Follow us on Facebook and Instagram! The Pink Picket Fence Boutique @the pinkpicketfenceboutique 19DDF1117S© ` The Salvation Army For more info call 919-394-7843 610 N. Williams Street, Goldsboro Joy, Peace and Goodwill Volunteers needed to help ring the bells this year Nov. 17 - Dec. 23 Pick a tag off one of our Angel Trees and put a smile on a child's face this holiday season. Money raised in Wayne Co. stays in Wayne Co. 22DSP1117S© A Christmas Carol WHERE: Paramount Theatre WHEN: 7:30 p.m., Dec. 8 and 9; 3 p.m., Dec. 10 COST: $15 and $18 Gene McLendon, right, portrayed Scrooge two years ago and Heath Radford was Bob Cratchit.

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