As Christmas 1843 approached, Charles Dickens was facing some serious financial problems. He was already famous and revered by the public, but sales of his work were slipping and he was afraid that his best days were behind him. In an effort to generate some cash, and inspired by a visit to the industrial city of Manchester and its working poor, Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol and rushed it into publication on December 19, 1843. And in the process of creating the tale of greedy businessman Ebenezer Scrooge, who would be transformed by the spirit of Christmas, Dickens transformed the entire perception of Christmas in Victorian England and beyond.
One hundred and seventy years later, A Christmas Carol has been produced countless times as stage play and film, but somehow it never loses its magic, managing to light the fires of the holiday spirit within even the most jaded souls.
Ulster Ballet’s 19th annual production of A Christmas Carol comes to the Ulster Performing Arts Center (UPAC) in Kingston on Friday and Saturday, December 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, December 8 at 2 p.m., featuring a cast of 65 dancers, actors and stage professionals. This version of the holiday classic has become a tradition for many families in the region, who look forward each year to the heartwarming and emotional tale of redemption as interpreted through a narrator and ballet.
Rehearsals for the show start each year in September. Casting is open to anyone in the community who wishes to audition for Ulster Ballet’s artistic directors Scarlett Fiero, a Saugerties native, and Quiedo Carbone and company choreographer Sara Miot. And while some roles are filled by the students of the Saugerties Ballet Center, home to the Ulster Ballet Company (UBC), those who haven’t yet seen the show should know that it is a full-fledged theatrical production with professionally executed lighting and special effects put forth on beautiful sets by Kingston artist Leslie Bender.
Ulster Ballet’s A Christmas Carol, Friday/Saturday, December 6-7, 7:30 p.m., Sunday, December 8, 2 p.m., $20/$15, Ulster Performing Arts Center, 601 Broadway, Kingston, (845) 339-6088, (845) 473-2072, (800) 745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com.