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'A Christmas Carol' haunts Tablerock Festival of Salado

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Posted: Friday, November 27, 2009 12:00 pm | Updated: 8:10 am, Thu Aug 16, 2012.

By Jade Ortego

Killeen Daily Herald

The Salado production of "A Christmas Carol," adapted from the eponymous novel by Charles Dickens, is a holiday tradition enjoyed by people across Central Texas.

About 300 attend every year, and groups come from as far away as Dallas, Fort Worth and San Antonio.

"People are addicted to it. They have to see 'A Christmas Carol' at Christmas time. It's become a tradition," Jackie Mills said.

When Harry Sweet was brought on to direct the play in 1997, he adapted the Dickens story for the stage.

"It's a close adaptation," Mills said. "People love the real Dickens thing."

Sweet has directed the play since then, but is in the hospital with a broken leg this year, so assistant director Shannon Ashe has been directing rehearsals. It is performed by the nonprofit organization Tablerock Festival of Salado Inc., and all proceeds go to funding performances.

This will be the 13th year the play has been put on, Mills and Sweet said. Only once in those years was the production canceled, and that was due to a thick fog that obstructed view of the stage.

About 70 people are involved in this year's production, but that number could grow. Auditions are in October, but Mills and director Harry Sweet are hesitant to turn down anyone who wants to participate in the performance, and will give most people who ask job as a walk-on character or assisting with lights or costumes.

"Word gets out. (Actors) go home and talk to their friends and then they want to be in it. We try to include everyone," Mills said.

There are people in the production from Copperas Cove, Killeen, Waco, Temple, Belton, Florence and Georgetown.

Sweet said the play appeals to audiences because it calls on people to lead an ethical life.

"I think (people return to see the show every year) because it reminds us of a truth we know deep inside. Our responsibilities are not to ourselves, but to others. Its about the idea of doing for our neighbor," Sweet said.

"Those are the recurring themes that the major religions play up, and that our mothers raised us on. We still want to be told what we should do, and what we should do is be nice."

Performances are Dec. 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 7 p.m. Snacks and drinks will be available at the concession stand beginning at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students and $3 for children younger than 12, and they are available online at www.tablerock.tix.com.

Contact Jade Ortego at jortego@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7553.

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