Scrooge will return to area stage

Now in its 10th year,
show at Playhouse 22
is an annual tradition

Scrooge will return to
area stage
Now in its 10th year,
show at Playhouse 22
is an annual tradition

EAST BRUNSWICK — It’s no secret that Charles Dickens’ "A Christmas Carol" has staying power.

But on the local stage, where few theatrical productions are sustained for more than a handful of productions, audiences can’t seem to get enough of Ebenezer Scrooge.

At least that’s the case in East Brunswick, where the holiday classic will open its 10th anniversary run tomorrow night at Playhouse 22, located on Dunhams Corner Road.

The local version of the show was adapted by Tony Adase, a Manalapan resident who directs the show each year.

Although it’s an annual hit and something of a cash cow for the playhouse, Adase said it is as much a surprise to him that the show is still going strong some 10 years after he decided to stage his own version.

"I don’t believe it," he said, noting that it became an annual tradition without anyone deciding to make it one. "Nobody ever even mentions [the question], ‘Should we do it another year?’ It’s such a popular show and it just gets bigger every year."

Many of those in the audience tend to be repeat customers, as some local families have made it something of a holiday tradition to take in the East Brunswick show.

"We get a lot of people who came when their kids or their grandkids were younger, so they bring them back to see it again now that they can appreciate it more," Adase said.

That’s not to say it’s a children’s show. Basing his version on the Dickens novel and on the 1951 black-and-white motion picture adaptation featuring Alastair Sim, Adase made sure to emphasize the themes Dickens used to depict 19th-century life in London.

Those themes include poverty, greed and ghosts.

The show is changed slightly from year to year, as Adase often has added scenes from the book, but many of the actors have remained through the years. Bob Cratchit, for example, continues to be played by Arnie Chinich, of Belle Mead, while Cindy Schwadel, Manalapan, has remained in her role as Mrs. Cratchit.

New this year are the actors playing Ebenezer Scrooge (Art Hickey, of Middlesex), and Tiny Tim (Brian Wold, of Freehold).

The show’s producer is Angela Dohl, of Metuchen.

Remaining shows are scheduled for Dec. 19 at 8 p.m.; Dec. 20 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., and Dec. 21 at 2 p.m.

Tickets, which cost $10, remain available for all the shows at the 156-seat theater, though Adase noted that the second weekend of shows usually draws a larger crowd than the first.

For reservations or more information regarding the upcoming show, call (732) 254-3939.