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Life as performance art

Life as performance art

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By Fr. G. Corwin Stoppel

As much as I appreciate professional live theater — Mason Street Warehouse in particular — I like community theater also. My introduction to it came in elementary school re-enacting the first Thanksgiving in 1621. Of course, by today’s standards it was politically incorrect.

Another dose came if we were conscripted to serve in our Sunday school’s frightening event called “The Christmas Pageant,” It was a fiasco waiting to happen as we lined up as shepherds, wise men and angels while the rest of our friends were chosen to be Mary, Joseph, the innkeeper and the archangel.

Who would be the first to have stage fright, lose their cookies, forget their lines or otherwise embarrass our families as the rest of the audience watched?

I admire anyone who has survived those years and auditions for a role in an amateur production. It takes courage, commitment and work to assemble a performance. And it takes a lot of people working behind the scenes for it to happen.

Which is why the Sauga-tuck Village Players’ annual production of “A Christmas Carol” is pure joy. It’s being offered at the Saugatuck Woman’s Club Fridays, Dec. 7 and 14, at 8 p.m.; Saturdays, Dec. 8 and 15, at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays, Dec. 9 and 16, at 7 p.m.

It’s a Saugatuck tradition that, for many of us, is the highlight of the holiday season. It’s been that way for more than three decades.

Steve Williford is the personification of Scrooge as he terrifies his clerk Bob Crachit, harshly responds to the charity men and annoys his nephew. Then, the morning after three ghosts visit him, watching and listening to Steve/Scrooge stammer, stutter and force himself to say “Merry Christmas” is magnificent.

“Carol” is definitely not a one-man show. The entire community is invited to participate. Those of us who have been here a while remember departed friends and neighbors — Mary Ann Curtis, Warren and Betty Mulder, Clyde and Belva Ball, Louise Peters and Jane Van Dis, among them — who performed.

Weeks before he passed away, Ernie Evangelista was the narrator, as he had been for a number of years. Others have performed for a few years and moved on.

Even though the cast changes, the timeless message of love and compassion remains the same.

We’re fortunate to have experienced this play for so many years. Get your tickets now, before they are sold out. Call (269) 857-1701 or find them online at SaugatuckChristmasCarol.ludus.com.