The ghosts you normally associate with Halloween have popped up at the Hartford Stage for a special haunting at Christmas time.  Thanks to the genius of Charles Dickens, Ebenezer Scrooge, that cranky, cantankerous, stingy and hard hearted accountant who loves to hate Christmas will be treated once again to a trio of visitations from spirits from beyond until Wednesday, December 30, when the theater presents its twelfth annual production of “A Christmas Carol-A Ghost Story of Christmas.”

Once again the twinkly eyed and wonderfully mischievous Bill Raymond will play Scrooge at the evening and matinee performances while Gustave Johnson will ably lead at the student matinees.  Scrooge dismisses the holiday with a “bah, humbug” disdain until his old partner Jacob Marley (Bill Kux or Robert Hannon Davis), long dead these seven years, comes to warn him to change his ways.  Jacob has learned the hard way what greed can do to a person’s humanity and he wants his old friend Ebenezer to be spared his unsavory fate.

To that end, Jacob sends the Spirits of Christmas Past (Johanna Morrison), Christmas Present (Alan Rust) and Christmas Future (Robert Patrick Sheire) to visit and show Scrooge through a series of memories and foreshadowings what life was, is and could be.  A transformation and redemption take place that allow Scrooge to abandon his unfeeling ways and adopt a kinder, gentler manner of viewing the world.

Scrooge sees everybody from his helpful housekeeper Mrs. Dilber (Bill Kux or Robert Hannon Davis) to his clerk Bob Crachit (Robert Hannon Davis) to his nephew Fred (Michael Bakkensen) in a new light, allowing the meaning of the holiday to ring out true and clear.  A cast of three dozen, under the spirited direction of Michael Wilson, will bring you this holiday classic that will become a family tradition, if it isn’t already.

For tickets ($25-66, children under 12 $10 off), call Hartford Stage, 50 Church Street, Hartford at 860-527-5151 or online at www.hartfordstage.org.  Performances are Tuesday – Saturday at 7:30 p.m., with matinees Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.  There will be no performance Christmas Day and an extra 2 p.m. matinee on December 24, 28, 29 and 30 and an additional 7:30 show December 20 and 27.

A special benefit for Hartford Stage and the Mark Twain House and Museum will take place Saturday, January 23 at 7:30 p.m. when Hal Holbrook stars in “Mark Twain Tonight!”  at the Lincoln Theater, University of Hartford, 200 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford.  For tickets ($55,70 or $125 for premier seating and a meet and greet dessert reception with Hal Holbrook after the performance) call 860-527-5151.

Shake your snow globe and see Ebenezer Scrooge turn himself upside down as he learns the true meaning of giving and the power of change with a pure and happy heart at holiday time.  God bless us, everyone.

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