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Waterworks Players present virtual performance

Waterworks Players will transport Southside audiences to Victorian London with a new virtual twist on everyone’s favorite holiday classic this holiday season.

“A Christmas Carol,” written in 1843 by Charles Dickens, has been adapted many times for the stage, for radio, and for television and film. In 2020 it’s time to adapt it for a new virtual medium. Don Blaheta has written an adaptation designed for performance via videoconferencing software and will direct the Waterworks production of this Christmas classic.

Ebenezer Scrooge (Granville Scott) is the tight-fisted and inconsiderate man who has spent his entire adult life a bit too focused on making money. Scrooge creates a life of hardship for his loyal employee, Bob Cratchit (LeShawn Bell) and his wife Emily (Anita Lynn) who manages the household and their kids Matthew (Rowan Danielsen), Lucy (Isabelle Halliday), Peter (Quinn Kukk), Martha (Janeen Sentz), and of course, Tiny Tim (Cecilia Poon).

It takes the ghost of his old business partner, Jacob Marley (Jim Lindsay), and three other Christmas spirits (Ashley Ashlock, Jamie R. Brown, Caitlin Linkins) to take Scrooge — virtually, of course — on a journey of self-discovery and growth.

Members of the ensemble wear many hats (sometimes literally) to play dozens of characters in the past, present and future of Scrooge’s life. Rounding out the cast are Charlotte Trant Baltz, Brandon Nuckols, Carol Lindsay, Leigh Lunsford and Greg Tsigaridas.

Because the production is fully virtual, Waterworks is pleased to welcome back several Waterworks alumni who left the Farmville area and now live in Florida, Mississippi and Nebraska, as well as players old and new spread across five counties here in central Virginia.

This adaptation is written specifically for the new medium. Rather than treating it as a radio play with visuals, or a stage production without a stage, or a film without a studio, it has aspects of all three as well as new features unique to the modern video conference format.

Staging is certainly different. Every camera is up close — bringing facial expressions and gestures closer than any stage production. Layout matters. We’ve learned a lot about using window placement to create the sense that actors (who might be a block apart or hundreds of miles away) are sharing the scene. Pandemic-era precautions have provided constraints that channel the creativity of the cast and crew and let us forge something entirely new.

The productions will be live. The cast and crew, each in their own homes, spread across four states and two time zones, will be acting in front of their tablets and computers right at the moment you’re watching them. It’s a grand experiment, and we are excited to put it on and bring it to you.

Performances are December 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. via a live stream in a Facebook event. Streaming access each night is $4.99 per device. Purchase tickets via Facebook for the event on the relevant night. You will find links to each event at http://waterworksplayers.org/buytickets.

You will be able to rewatch the event after it ends, even if you miss it live.