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Sterling Playmakers Adjust 'A Christmas Carol'

Performance opens Dec. 6.

Being in a bad mood for a couple days can become a lifetime of bah humbugs according to how Rick DeLisi sees his role as Scrooge.

Normally a good-natured man, once DeLisi rehearses on stage with the Sterling Playmakers, he yells, slams things around and hides behind his fists.

“It’s the best acting you ever could do. You get to be mean and surly, rude and obnoxious, cowardly and sniveling, giddy and delirious, and then warm and human at the end, all in 90 minutes,” said DeLisi, an Ashburn resident who has not acted in awhile. But then he heard about the tryouts for his all-time favorite story, Charles Dickens’ classic “A Christmas Carol.”

DeLisi wanted to find something he, his wife Jeannie and their nine-year-old son Chris could participate in together. They all got parts in an adapted version of a story DeLisi knows all too well.

“I’ve read all the versions and seen all the movies,” DeLisi said. “I think it’s the greatest story ever told. It’s the ultimate do-over to make the last corrections before it’s too late. … It’s never over until it’s over. That’s what this story is about.”

EBENZER SCROOGE, as DeLisi describes him, is mean, rude and horrible to others, a self-involved man who became that way in his 20s and remains so for years as a miserly businessman. He is visited by three spirits, introduced by his former and dead business partner Marley, played by Bill Toohig, on Christmas Eve. The Spirits of Christmas Past, played by Liz Harrington, of Christmas Present, played by Kevin Robertson, and Christmas Future, played by Jim Hepfinger, bring about a change of heart in Scrooge regarding his treatment of others.

“The secret to being a good person is finding the good in others. When you see this show, that’s what it is,” DeLisi said, adding that he believes, “No matter how bad you mess up things in your life, there’s always a chance to make things right if you’re willing to see the goodness in people.”

Playing the part of Scrooge would be “extremely hard if it wasn’t a story I was so familiar with. … It’s fun to do many emotions and be so many different characters all as the same person,” DeLisi said.

“It’s tricky doing all the facial expressions, but it’s fun,” said first-time performer Thomas Knutson, 9, of Leesburg, who plays the part of Tiny Tim, son of Scrooge’s clerk Bob Cratchit, played by Joe Campanella. “I really like his character, [but] I felt sorry for him. He has the leg problem and stuff, and he’s so nice.”

DIRECTOR Elizabeth Campanella adapted the script for the play to “keep the flavor light with a few serious moments thrown in.”

The Hamilton resident, a member of the Sterling Playmakers since 1996, perused several scripts, saw the movie versions and read the book, realizing she could not find a script she liked. She picked her favorite scenes and wrote a few small incidental scenes to make the script flow, “not enough to alter the play,” she said. “Primarily, the director’s job is to influence the actors and the flavor of the play.”

The show is the first main-stage directing experience for Campanella.

“I like what she’s done with the script. It’s fun and friendly,” said Angela Hepola of Herndon, producer for the play. “This particular script, the way she’s casted and directed it, draws in the audience and makes them part of it.”

“What’s neat is she added in the music and dancing, which gets more people to be involved in the show,” said Kathy Bleutge, publicity chair for the show.

Rehearsals started Sept. 17.