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A New Gift With Olde Spirit: A Christmas Carol returns to NDNU Theatre for 22nd Season

Belmont, CA, November 26, 2007 — After 21 years of crying "Bah Humbug" in NDNU's annual "Christmas Carol, the musical," Michael B. Elkins still finds something new about the tortured soul he portrays every time he steps onto the stage as Ebenezer Scrooge.

”I have loved the story of Ebenezer Scrooge since I first read A Christmas Carol  in the fourth grade “said Elkins, Chair of NDNU’s Department of Theatre and Dance. “The journey Scrooge takes in his night of encounters with the spirits of the Past, Present and Future is a masterful reminder to readers and audiences that the time we have to live is the most precious commodity there is.

”Over the past twenty-one years, I have been approached by, literally thousands of people who have expressed their thanks for being reminded about the beauty of Christmas and the power achieved by the simplest gesture of kindness and generosity,”  added Elkins. "We all share the hope that the Christmas spirit can be kept alive and practiced throughout the entire year.”

So, it's with this teaching spirit in mind that for the 22nd time, Elkins will once again dust of his top hat, put on the trademark round wire-rim glasses, and slip into his ratty bedroom slippers to reprise the role of stodgy Ebenezer Scrooge to the delight of audiences around the Bay Area. Performances are scheduled from December 7-16.

NDNU’s dynamic and expanding Department of Theatre and Dance and the Performing Arts Company has offered “The Gift” to the community free of charge welcoming all to the 53-year-old landmark NDNU Theatre for the past 22 years. As the longest running musical version of A Christmas Carol in the San Francisco Bay Area, it is estimated that more than 100,000 people have attended these performances. The Theatre Department was recently awarded the Peninsula Arts Council’s Diamond Award for 2007. The award honors individuals and organizations for their contributions to the arts in San Mateo County.

This year audiences will see a production with an exciting score written by film and Broadway veterans Alan Menken, Lynne Ahrens, and Mike Okrent. This musical adaptation of A Christmas Carol has been dazzling audiences in annual holiday performances at Radio City Music Hall for the last several years.

The show is produced by the Performing Arts Company whose members include many individuals who have helped produce the annual “Gift” for the past twenty-one years. Members of this group have been working since last January to gather the support and resources required to meet the demands of the new production. NDNU Theatre faculty Design and Technical Director, Robin Dutch Fritz, has designed the new setting for the show, with massive rolling buildings that will be moved to create the numerous London city locations for the play. Fritz and Production Coordinator Hans Saier coordinated construction of the metal frame for the set at a welding company site in Redwood City. Jennifer Earlywine returns as Make Up Designer. Mary Hill, longtime veteran of past Christmas Carol productions, will serve as Producer and Costume Designer.

The cast of more than 80 performers is composed mostly of actors, singers, and dancers who have appeared in past productions including Jeff Young, John Babin, George Metropolus, Laura Hill, Adam Ellison, Elana Ron, Roberta Lighty and others. Also working with Elkins are Anne Lawler, Virginia Musante and Richard Newton who serve as Associate Directors along with Katherine Hill, Staging and Movement Consultant. Coleen Lorenz, Director of the NDNU Dance Program, is the choreographer, and Kathi Sigelman returns as the production Stage Manager.

The Gift continues to be truly that. All but the opening night performance is offered to the public free of charge. The opening night, Friday, December 7th is the only performance for which tickets are sold. Proceeds from the single performance help fund the entire show. Dozens of Bay Area businesses and individuals support the annual event by donating goods, services, and funding.

Tickets cost $40 for adults and $20 for children and include a post performance Gala reception in elegant Ralston Hall Mansion on the University campus. All other performances are free and audience members are encouraged to bring new toys and non-perishable food items to donate at the theatre. The tons of food and over 1,500 toys that are collected each year are distributed to families in need by a dozen human service agencies.

Performances of “The Gift” – A Christmas Carol, the Musical are: December 7th at 7 p.m., December 9, 15, and 16 at 2 p.m. and December 8, 13, 14, and 15 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket order information is available at the production website: www.christmascarolthegift.org.