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"A Christmas Carol"

The Charles Dickens classic, "The Christmas Carol," opens Dec. 3 at the Little Theatre of Alexandria.

Even though she plans to major in dramatic arts when she heads off to college next year, the opening night jitters were still there for T.C. Williams senior Maria Simpkins when she made her debut in "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge," now playing at the Little Theatre of Alexandria.

"It was slightly nerve-wracking to say the least," said Simpkins, who plays The Ghost in the off-beat twist on the traditional Charles Dickens holiday tale. "All I could think about was not stepping on my costumes or tripping on one of the little children on stage."

Simpkins has been a volunteer behind the scenes at LTA for the last year, working on wigs, make-up and costumes, but this was her first foray in front of the audience.

"We've been getting a great response," Simpkins said. "That's been very nice."

Simpkins is appearing in one of two shows being presented by LTA for the holidays: "Mrs. Bob Cratchit's Wild Christmas Binge" and the Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol." Both shows are companion pieces and suitable for the entire family.

While "A Christmas Carol" is the familiar Dickens story with carols, ghosts and a timeless message, "Mrs. Bob Crachit's Wild Christmas Binge" is an effort by LTA to step out of the familiar and bring a new flavor of holiday shows to Alexandria.

Cleverly written by Christopher Durang, the musical parody asks the question: "What if beloved Mrs. Cratchit wasn't such a goody-goody, but instead was an angry, stressed-out modern-day woman who wanted out of repressive Victorian London?" The show runs concurrently with "A Christmas Carol," with performances at 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday evenings through Dec. 18.

For more traditional theatergoers, "A Christmas Carol" opens Dec. 3 as Ebenezer Scrooge, a miserly Victorian humbug, travels with ghostly guides through Christmas past, present and future to find the true meaning of the holidays. The show runs through Dec. 12.

"It's very exciting to be on the LTA stage," said Simpkins, who has performed in several plays and will be directing the upcoming production of "Rent" at T.C. Williams. "But it still feels like every night is opening night."

For tickets or more information, call 703-683-0496 or visit www.thelittletheatre.com.