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Scrooge helps beat the heat

ADRIAN -- With temperatures expected to reach near 100 degrees this weekend, more than a few hardy people may be dreaming of a Minnesota winter.

With thoughts of winter come thoughts of Christmas -- and what better time to be in the Christmas spirit than this coming week, when Adrian hosts its town festival, "Christmas in July."

In conjunction with a Christmas-themed craft show and parade, the Adrian Area Community Theatre will present the musical, "A Christmas Carol," Thursday through Sunday. Performances are slated for 7:30 p.m. Thursday and Friday night, with 2 p.m. matinees on Saturday and Sunday.

Jason Olson, returning to direct the summer theater program, said although it may sound kind of strange to do a Christmas play in July, the selection has been a great challenge for what will be the largest cast in the program's four-year history.

"We were looking to get more people involved this year," said Olson, adding that despite the large cast, many have had to take on multiple roles in the musical because of the large dance numbers required in specific scenes.

Initial planning for "A Christmas Carol," began in January, with auditions completed in May and rehearsals starting the first week of June.

"They've had a little less than two months (to prepare)," Olson said. Still, cast members have put forth the time and effort to ensure a quality production for guests of this year's performances. Several of the younger cast members are taking part in morning and afternoon rehearsals, and then returning for the evening rehearsals when the adults are present.

"Two individuals (Thursday) night put in six hours of practice," said Olson. Not wanting to scare off potential cast members for future productions, he added that participants can put as much time as they want into honing their role.

Like productions of the past, this year's cast features a vast age range -- from the youngest at age 6 to a grandmotherly-like figure.

Playing out the role of Scrooge is Lee Stover, who just graduated from high school this spring. This is Stover's third summer musical, although he has participated in numerous one-act and school plays in the past. Throughout high school he was active in choir and show choir, and has performed solos.

Stover said the role has been a bit challenging, but not in the way one might expect.

"I think the basic thing is just getting down how to move," said Stover with a laugh. "I'm pretty active and play sports. I have had to slow down and step different -- that and whenever I have to put my make-up on, that takes a long time to make me look old."

Stover, of rural Adrian, was initially cast as the Ghost of Christmas Present. However after a Scrooge wasn't cast by the third week into rehearsals, Olson asked if Stover would take on the role.

As for the musical itself, Olson said attendees will see a fairly traditional performance, although many may not have seen "A Christmas Carol" performed as a musical before.

"We're not used to seeing Scrooge sing," said Olson. He added that there is a magical number in the production that includes girls dressed as tasteful Rockettes.

"It's the same basic story about the old miser Ebeneezer Scrooge who needs to learn to be more compassionate to his fellow human beings," he said.

The Adrian Area Community Theater's summer production is made possible through a Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council (SMAHC) grant, along with funding through Adrian Public Schools.

"The school stepped up this year to give us a little more money to spend," said Olson. "With SMAHC and the school, we can put together a really nice production that I think the community can be proud of."

Preceding the theater's final performance on Sunday, the cast will host a Fezziwig's Tea from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. in the elementary school. Serving will be tea, coffee and English cake. Proceeds from the free-will offering will be given to the 5A Foundation at Adrian Public Schools.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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