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NDNU's "The Gift," A Christmas Carol, the musical

Belmont, CA, November 24, 2008 — With the economy taking the lead role as the Grinch this holiday season, Christmas is bound to be stolen away for some. However, oddly enough for many Bay Area residents, the most misanthropic and miserly of Christmas characters --Scrooge, will again find a way to bring some cheer.

Michael Elkins, Chair of NDNU’s Department of Theatre and Dance, will reprise the role of stodgy Ebenezer Scrooge for the 23rd consecutive year, taking us all on Scrooge’s famed journey revisiting the spirits of Past, Present, and Future. During his nightly encounters, we are reminded of the beauty of Christmas and the power achieved by the simplest gesture of kindness and generosity.

NDNU’s dynamic and expanding Department of Theatre and Dance and the Performing Arts Company have offered “The Gift” to the community free of charge for the past 23 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. Audience members, who are able, are encouraged to bring gifts of non-perishable food or new toys to those in need during the holidays.

“The economy has made life very difficult for thousands of individuals and families this holiday season, and many will struggle to find hope and happiness,” said Elkins. “At NDNU, we’re offering folks some joy with a dazzling, free Christmas production.

“The food banks and toy programs are really hurting this year, more than ever, so we are hoping our audiences will respond by donating a record number of items as they possibly can,” added Elkins. “By working together in a collaborative spirit, everyone wins and we can help save Christmas and achieve a happy holiday for all.”

Last year, NDNU’s production collected more than 1,500 toys and 14 tons of food for needy Bay Area families. Regional chapters of Second Harvest Food Bank, Samaritan House, and Toys for Tots, along with five other charities welcomed the donations as they have for the past 22 years.

Audiences will view a spectacular 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-two years.

The cast of more than 70 performers is composed mostly of actors, singers, and dancers who have appeared in past productions including Christmas Carol veterans Jeff Young, Mary Hill, Michael Reed, Jenny Earlywine, George Metropolus, Laura Hill, Adam Ellison, Elana Ron and others. Also working with Elkins are Richard Newton, Anne Lawler and Richard Newton who serve as Associate Directors along with Coleen Lorenz, Director of the NDNU Dance Program, who is the choreographer. Kathi Sigelman returns as the production Stage Manager. Matthew Mattei is the Music Supervisor.  Larry Rice and Lisa Battista are the Conductor and Vocal Director.

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 5th 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.

Performances of “The Gift” – A Christmas Carol, the Musical are: December 5th at 7 p.m., December 6, 7, 13 and 14 at 2 p.m. and December 6, 11, 12, and 13 at 7:30 p.m. Ticket order information is available at the production website: www.christmascarolthegift.org.