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'A Christmas Carol,' with music, takes stage at Francis Wilson Playhouse

CLEARWATER

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Jim Demetrius was working late one night at the Francis Wilson Playhouse when he heard footsteps.

No one was there.

The next day someone explained, "You met Frank."

Legend has it that Frank was a chain-smoking actor responsible for burning down the original playhouse in 1942. Because of his guilty conscience, the story goes, his spirit haunts the theater, making hissing sounds and poking people like Demetrius in the back on occasion.

Lately, Frank has been keeping his fingers to himself.

Demetrius speculates that's because he's enjoying the current show, A Christmas Carol, with its time-traveling apparitions.

It's also a holiday favorite among the living, right up there with eggnog and sugar cookies.

The musical drama runs tonight through Sunday at the Francis Wilson Playhouse.

Demetrius, 51, plays the iconic Ebenezer Scrooge, a lonely, penny-pinching misanthrope who hates Christmas and all its merriment. A variety of specters are sent to redeem old Scrooge and show him the importance of friends, family and Christmas cheer.

"I try to play him a little quirky, a little different so he will be a sympathetic character," Demetrius said. "There are moments when he shows he has a little sense of humor."

The play, an adaptation of Dickens' classic, begins during World War I in London on Christmas Eve.

Timothy Cratchit, or "Tiny Tim," is a grandfather now and brings a decoration, a figure of Christmas Past, to place on the tree top.

That sets off his narration, and the audience is transported to the Christmas of 1843 with all of the memorable Dickens characters.

There's music in this version with street carolers and party dancers. About 30 children make up two casts of kids.

The play is a revival of the 1996 adaptation written by Sam McClelland 13 years ago as a last-minute substitute for another show. McClelland is also the show's director.

"It is so good, it won some Lary awards," said Andy Rufo, general manager of the playhouse. "This is an absolute don't-miss Christmas event."

Have a Diversions idea? Contact Terri Reeves at treeves@tampabay.rr.com.

if you go

Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' with a twist

Where: Francis Wilson Playhouse, 302 Seminole St., Clearwater.

When: Tonight at 8; Saturday at 2 and 8 p.m.; Sunday at 2 p.m.

Tickets: $20; $10 for students.

For information: Visit franciswilsonplayhouse.org or call (727) 446-1360.

'A Christmas Carol,' with music, takes stage at Francis Wilson Playhouse 12/17/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 17, 2009 4:54pm]
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