Making Merry: Hale’s seasonal sensation ‘A Christmas Carol’ returns with new direction

By Savannah Leavitt
   Christmas is in the air as the Hale Center Theater Orem prepares for their 35th annual production of A Christmas Carol. The seasonal musical will run from Nov. 28 to Dec. 23.
   Chris Brower takes the limelight again this Christmas season as Ebenezer Scrooge alongside counterpart Art Allen, a singer in The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. Brower, a favorite in the role of Scrooge, has faithfully portrayed the character nearly every year since 1995. In fact, he has only missed one production since then, according to HCTO founder and producer Anne Swenson. He missed it when he was away caring for his parents in Idaho.
   However, there is another familiar face missing from this year’s version of A Christmas Carol. Former director, Jerry Elison died shortly after last year’s production.
   “Sweet Jerry had so much to give,” Anne says. “A Christmas Carol was so important to him, even in his final days.”
   Everyone who participated in last year’s production helped him with his physical challenges and, when he was unable to attend rehearsals, sent him recordings for his feedback. 
   Shawnda Moss, a long-time fixture on the local arts scene and works in BYU’s theater education program, takes over the production’s direction.Besides her other experience, Shawnda has been involved in past productions of A Christmas Carol with HCTO and should make spirits bright with her interpretation of the classic tale.
   Productions will include COVID-19 restrictions, including mask mandates and social distanced seating. Protective measures are being taken not only for the audience, but also for the performers themselves. Producers have rewritten the script and ensembled characters to reduce the cast size this year. 
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