Ghostly story a Christmas tradition on McKinney square
Photo courtesy of Jake Correll – With opening day in conjunction with McKinney’s Dickens of a Christmas, the McKinney Repertory Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” kicks off the holiday season on the historic downtown square at the McKinney Performing Arts Center.
With only a few days before Turkey Day, Christmas tunes already permeate the air on the square in historic downtown McKinney. But it's not the music that takes center stage during this time of year
Inside the McKinney Performing Arts Center, Jake Correll and his team of theatrical roadies are in the Courtroom Theatre putting the finishing touches on the stage production of "A Christmas Carol," a holiday tradition six years in the making that will take place next weekend.
The production - which opens Nov. 23 in conjunction with the city's annual Dickens of a Christmas - has become McKinney's way of officially ringing in the holiday season, welcoming a regular slew of cast members and show-goers every year.
"Some people, after the show's over, say, 'I don't feel like the Christmas season is really here until I see you guys in "A Christmas Carol,"'" said Correll, director of the McKinney Repertory Theatre. "It's short, it's sweet and everybody knows the story. It's very family oriented, both on stage and off."
The troupe's rendition of the Charles Dickens masterpiece holds special meaning to Correll for many reasons. The story of redemption and the moral and social obligations humans have to one another, for example, has always spoken to Correll's heart.
Another reason he holds this production near and dear is the fact that this adaptation was done by friend, UNT professor and McKinney resident Andrew Harris, who has been a supporter of the theater group since its founding in 2003.
In Correl's humble opinion, "A Christmas Carol" is the McKinney Repertory Theatre's ultimate theater production.
"'A Christmas Carol' was one of the first plays I did in high school in 1962, playing the ghost of Jacob Marley," Correll wrote in his director's notes for the play.
Last year, Correll played the same role. This year, the retired Marine will play Bob Cratchit. Many of the characters audience members will see this year have participated in the play since it began and it's the only production they've ever done, Correll said.
"We have family combinations of grandfather/grandmother/granddaughter, father/daughter, mother/sons, brother/sister, husband/wife, mother/daughter and brother/brother," Correll wrote. "[This is] a family event they look forward to each year."
While people may certainly opt to purchase their tickets in advance, Correll said one point of nostalgia he hopes will continue is the ability for anyone strolling around the square to pop in on a whim for a reasonable price.
However, Correll did estimate a full house most nights, so getting your tickets a little early wouldn't hurt either.
"This is by far the biggest audience we have for any show throughout the year," he said. "Anywhere from 1,200 to 1,800 people have seen it every year."
A Christmas Carol opens Nov. 23 at the McKinney Performing Arts Center, 111 N. Tennessee St. in McKinney, and runs through Dec. 2. Tickets are $10 for adults, $7 for students and seniors and $5 for children 12 years of age and under. For tickets and information, visit mckinneyperformingartscenter.org.
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