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    A Dickens Christmas Festival Brings a Favorite Story to Life
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    I’m a big reader, but certain authors and I still just don’t get along. I count Charles Dickens as “not for the faint of heart,” but luckily for me – and you – one of his best-loved holiday stories, A Christmas Carol, actually comes to life this weekend in the Louisville area.

    December 13 -14, The Kentucky Renaissance Fair presents the final weekend of the fourth annual Dickens Christmas Festival in Eminence, Kentucky, where you can enjoy live scenes from the story, shop for hand-crafted gifts, sip warming beverages by the giant fire, and even dance and chat with Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim and the rest of the family. You’ll spot Santa and Mrs. Claus there, too, from 2:00 to 4:00.

    Unlike other versions of A Christmas Carol that you might have seen, the festival places scenes from the novella into different spots along Main Street and the Towne Hall. Between settings, visitors can browse local merchants or sample the food in the Hall (come hungry). And the actors move between scenes and buildings, as well, giving you the feeling of being inside the story through your visit.

    “Improvisation is the name of the game,” says Erika Napier, who plays Mrs. Cratchit and Mrs. Dibble, Scrooge’s cranky housekeeper. Actors know the story and the scenes, but don’t work with a script. And they don’t have much prep time, either. “We have exactly two weekends of rehearsal, we break for Thanksgiving weekend, and then go straight into a two-weekend run. It’s never exactly the same twice but never, ever boring. The cast is small, only 13 folks. We’re all past or present actors at the Kentucky Renaissance Faire that is held at the same site for six weeks in the summer.”

    Eight local high school students have joined the production this year as an ensemble cast of carolers, says Napier. “They have worked so hard and are truly a blast to have. We are a varied group in terms of age, training and experience, so everyone is learning something from someone, be it a new song, a new way of breathing during singing, or some odd little bit of history.”

    If you have kids with you, Napier, er, Mrs. Cratchit, might bring them up on stage. As the Ghost of Christmas Present shows Scrooge the Cratchit home, the children say their names and what they did that day. “Our rules for the kids,” says Napier, “are ‘you have to talk to the wreath (to help them understand projection) and you can say whatever you want to say.’ It keeps us adults on our toes and really makes us flex our improvisation muscles!”

    The cast is eager to improvise with you during the last two days of the production, so don’t let them down. Attend the festival this Saturday and Sunday, noon to 6:00 p.m. Admission is $5 per person, and children 5 years old and under enter free.

    The Dickens Christmas Festival is located at 955 Elm St. Eminence, KY 40019. Phone: 859-846-4530

    Photos: Dickens Christmas Festival and TLJOnline

    Kachina Shaw's picture

    About Kachina Shaw

    A transplanted Hawkeye, I've now lived in Louisville longer than any other city. Can't live without: my husband and fur babies, coal-black coffee, peanut M&Ms, sunflowers, monthly vacations, books, walking paths, massage and a big purse.

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