Holiday musical in store from Moffat County drama program |

Holiday musical in store from Moffat County drama program

'Mr. Scrooge' features all ages in cast

When selecting a piece for the Moffat County High School drama department to perform this fall, organizers Jerry Runner-Smith and Billie Lockhart knew they would need something that would work within their budget and time requirements, as well as being a fun showcase for the abilities of their young actors.

They found what they were looking for in the form of a beloved seasonal classic.

The curtain will go up next week on "Mr. Scrooge," a musical version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" as performed by the MCHS theater program, with opening night on Thursday.

The perennial favorite story of the holidays for about 170 years and one of the most adapted books of all time tells the tale of the hateful, "humbug"-spouting, misanthropic miser Ebenezer Scrooge (Wes Atkin), whose disregard for those around him on Christmas Eve brings some unusual visitors of the undead persuasion.

The specters that show the title character the error of his ways and on the path to redemption include former business partner and tormented soul Jacob Marley (Jake Stewart); Ghost of Christmas Past (Kelvin Ashton), a New Jersey wise guy; Ghost of Christmas Present (Vanessa Libbee), a severe British military officer; and Ghost of Christmas Future (Olivia Neece), whose decapitated appearance reminds the audience that there are some darker elements to the Dickens favorite.

"It is a ghost story, after all," Runner-Smith said.

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In order to properly command respect from both Scrooge and the audience, Libbee needs to keep her vocal delivery booming while on stage.

"I have to be loud," she said of her character. "I think the hardest part of this has been learning lines and enunciating."

Libbee was talked into joining the production by friend and fellow MCHS freshman Jeremy Looper, who portrays the elderly Scrooge as a more well-meaning young man.

"I think the part I like most about being in a play is the audition process," Looper said. "I like doing my best and waiting to see how I did. I like the performance, too, but I think I like the audition more."

The musical features the talents of a plethora of ages, with high school students in the cast joined by those in elementary and middle school.

Katie Jo Knez, a third-grader at East Elementary School, originally had her hopes set on being part of the chorus, but the directors chose her for a part that was both bigger and smaller at once. The 9-year-old is the optimistic Tiny Tim, who doesn't let his frail form get in the way of his good cheer, providing the simple but memorable line "God bless us, everyone!"

"My music teacher asked me and my friends if we wanted to do it, and I love music," she said. "I do a lot of singing."

Memorizing the songs for her first theatrical experience has been tricky but fun, she added, including a solo near the finale.

With all different levels of skill involved, Runner-Smith has a lot to handle, and with only a short amount of time before performances begin, the feeling that everything is still a ways from being ready keeps haunting him.

"I feel like we could use about three weeks instead one, but it's very typical to feel that, and pretty soon, all that time will start telescoping as we get closer," he said.

With MCHS band teacher John Bolton guiding musical accompaniment from the orchestra pit and Lockhart, the school's choir director, working on the vocal component, rehearsals continue to come together more and more as makeup and costumes — with which Runner-Smith's wife, Jean, also assists — are slowly incorporated.

The amount of work put in by the cast has been admirable, Lockhart said, as students have juggled schedules with countless other activities to stay true to the adage, "the show must go on."

"They've worked so hard," she said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or

If you go

“Mr. Scrooge”

7 p.m. Thursday and Friday; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday

Moffat County High School, 900 Finley Lane

Details: Tickets are $5 for the holiday show, based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” For more information, call 970-824-7036.