Hilltop Players bring Scrooge to the Kelly Theatre in Dickens’ classic 

By Ian Beabout, Staff Writer 
The Hilltop Players have had an extremely unorthodox season. Starting with the epic “Ramayana – Past in Present” in the semester’s formative days and moving effortlessly into a chilling retelling of classic Poe lore, the Players have set the bar incredibly high for what’s to come. 
As luck would have it, the “Ghost of Theater Future” so happened to visit in a dream recently, and it is on good authority that the next performance to grace the hallowed halls of Kelly Theatre is the Charles Dickens classic, “A Christmas Carol.”
It’s incredibly likely you’ve been living under some sort of rock, or rock-like substance if you aren’t familiar with the story. Essentially, it’s been told time and time again, cruel old miser Ebenezer Scrooge falls asleep and is visited by three spirits – Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. In this original telling of “The Dr Phil Show” formula, Scrooge is shown how awful he has been, and what the effects of that awfulness will have on his life and the people around him. 
West Liberty theater professor Michael Aulick just so happens to be playing the part of the ‘Old Miser’ himself. 
“Our first priority is always the experience and training of the students,” Aulick said. “We had a small cast show on ‘Poe: Master of the Macabre’ in October but we have had a big influx of new students and wanted to have a large cast show so we could get everyone into a show. This show had roles for all of our majors and will have about 22 theatre majors on stage together.”
With a somewhat unpredictable season thus far, this adaptation of “A Christmas Carol” is by the books, in line with the many traditions people like to enjoy around the holiday season.
“This version attempts to stay faithful to Dicken’s original and does not take some of the modern liberties that other versions do,” Aulick said. “This show is exactly what people will expect. Although I will be playing the role of Ebenezer Scrooge – that is kind of different.”
The rather interesting thing about this adaptation is that it will offer the chance for both younger and more experienced actors to join the familiar Kelly cast.
“This show offers some roles for more experienced actors and for some that are new to us,” Aulick said. “I hope actors can balance the style of this play without slipping into stereotyped choices.” With that in mind, Aulick does hope that this final show of the year will touch people and enhance the holiday experience.
“While this play is not attempting to make a political point, it is the Christmas classic,” Aulick said. “I assume some will notice the parallel between today’s expanding distance between those who have a lot and those who have a little.  Dickens wrote the story when noticing the results of a growing working poor. Have we really come that far?”
Performances are set for 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 1-2 and 8-10, and at 3 p.m. on Dec. 11 at the Kelly Theatre. General admission tickets will cost $10. Senior citizen tickets will be $7 and groups of 10 or more also may purchase tickets at $7 per person. You can call (304) 336-8277 for reservations.