Modesto Performing Arts is saying "Bah! Humbug" to any innovations for the classic Charles Dickens story "A Christmas Carol."
The company will present a traditional version of the show next weekend at the Gallo Center for the Arts. That means it will closely follow Dickens' 1843 original story and dialogue and will stage the show with Victorian costumes and sets.
"We're not trying to outdo the writer," director Paul Tischer said. "We just want people to leave the show in the Christmas spirit."
"A Christmas Carol" centers on the miser Ebenezer Scrooge, who hates Christmas and mistreats his family and employees. He makes a dramatic transformation for the better after being visited by the ghost of his dead business partner and the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future.
The production will feature a cast of 35. While it's not a musical, there will be traditional Christmas carols sung throughout the show.
Ray Newman, who has appeared in shows with Modesto's former First Baptist Church (Cross Point Community Church) and Prospect Theater Project, stars as Scrooge. He watched the George C. Scott movie version of "A Christmas Carol" to prepare for the show but will be playing a much more exaggerated version of Scrooge in MPA's presentation.
He enjoys the chance to play a character that is both mean and good at different times.
"I'm an ex-first sergeant in the Army, so being tough is not that hard," he said with a smile.
Dave Weltner, a longtime friend of Newman's, is Bob Cratchit, Scrooge's much-abused clerk. Weltner, who has acted in shows for 30 years, said the character is a switch for him because he's never played someone so meek.
His favorite scenes are when Cratchit is happy with his large family. He thinks people love "A Christmas Carol" so much because it shows that people can change and because it has a happy ending.
Daniel Vermuelen, an 11-year-old Somerset Middle School student, plays Cratchit's crippled son, Tiny Tim. He said it's fun playing the character, who is 8 in the book.
"He doesn't let being a disabled child stop him," he said. "He really loves God and his family. He's a child that can do so much more."
Weltner said those who come to the show will not be disappointed. "I think you're going to see community theater at its best," he said.
WHAT: Modesto Performing Arts' "A Christmas Carol"
WHEN: 2 and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 and 2 and 7 p.m. Dec. 2
WHERE: Foster Theater, Gallo Center for the Arts, 1000 I St., Modesto
CALL: (209) 338-2100
ONLINE: www.gallo arts.org