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Seven shows of Christmas Utah Valley gives to thee: A roundup of local holiday productions

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To be sung to the countdown tune of “The 12 Days of Christmas”)

With a few weeks ‘til Christmas this region gave to me: seven venues playing, six days of acting, five different plays! For local crowds, three weeks of shows to be enjoyed and a whole lot of fun to be had.

In case you can’t follow the merry tune or you’ve got a little “Bah Humbug” dampening your holiday spirit, here’s a translation: From now through Christmas, seven venues across Utah Valley will be showing five different productions spanning six days a week.

From two takes on the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol” and “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever” to “The Forgotten Carols” and a unique, sing-along take on Liken’s “The First Christmas,” there’s a little spiritual, comical, meaningful and joyful for everyone this special season. Get more details on each show with our roundup here.

Hale Center Theater Orem's 'A Christmas Carol'

Chris Brower plays Ebenezer Scrooge in Hale Center Theater Orem's "A Christmas Carol" in 2018. 

‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Hale Center Theater Orem

The HCTO production of the Charles Dickens classic is a tradition decades in the making with plenty of great things to take away each season, at least according to Scott Healy, who plays Jacob Marley, the departed friend of miserly Ebenezer Scrooge.

“The lesson that comes, especially from Marley and Scrooge’s relationship, is there’s never a point when things are too late. You can always have a change of heart; always look at what you’ve done in your life and make amends for it and make a decision to be a better person. There’s always time for that to happen.”

“It makes clear that each of us can choose to be redeemed and become all that is possible,” said Chris Brower, the theater’s long-time Ebenezer Scrooge, of his character’s eventual transformation.

When: Monday-Saturday at 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. through Dec. 22 with 2 p.m. matinees each Saturday, and weekdays starting Dec. 20

Where: Hale Center Theater Orem, 225 W. 400 North, Orem

Cost: $18-$29

More info: haletheater.org

'A Christmas Carol' - Angelus Theatre

‘A Christmas Carol’ at the Angelus Theatre

For the second year, the Angelus is presenting Mark Shipley’s original adaptation of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Shipley, a lifelong theater veteran, also directed the production, designed the set and managed costuming, casting the vibrant Casey Lee as Ebenezer Scrooge.

In a chat with the Herald, Lee as Scrooge said, “When I enter the theater, I try so very hard to become Scrooge. I want the spirit of the story and the spirit of Christmas to show all involved that I can’t help but experience the change over and over again. ... As I descend into the depth of Scrooge’s misery and miserly curmudgeon-ness, by the time we get to the end, speaking both as Casey and as Scrooge, it’s glorious to experience.

The ghosts craft Scrooge’s transformation so beautifully and so tenderly I dare say I sincerely do feel the transformation, and I’m not acting when say every night is a genuine pleasure to do my part.”

Curt Gordon, owner of the Angelus Theater, said, “One of the things that I love about this adaptation is that Scrooge interacts with the visions that he sees, rather than just observing them. As a spirit, they can’t see him, but he can see them.”

The work Lee does is excellent, according to Gordon, and Shipley’s decades of experience (he’s done “A Christmas Carol” specifically 26 times) combines with an “outstanding” cast to create a must-see show this holiday season.

When: Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 22

Where: Angelus Theatre, 165 N. Main St., Spanish Fork

Cost: $10-$12

More info: angelustheatre.com

'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever' - Lehi Arts

‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ at Lehi Arts Center

It’s pretty commonly understood that the Herdman children are “the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, steal, smoke cigars, swear and hit little kids.”

So imagine the surprise of the community when the allure of free snacks draws the unruly, unsupervised youth to church. Taking over the lead roles in the annual Christmas pageant is only one way the troublemakers disrupt the season, leading to hilarity and a better understanding of the true meaning of Christmas.

According to the Lehi Arts Council Facebook page, “The show only runs one hour and makes for a perfect family night activity!”

When: Mondays and Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 15, including a 3 p.m. matinee Dec. 15

Where: Lehi Arts Center, 685 N. Center St., Lehi

Cost: $8

More info: lehicityarts.org/Theater.html

SCERA's 'The Best Christmas Pageant Ever'

A cast photo from SCERA's production of "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever."

‘The Best Christmas Pageant Ever’ at the SCERA Center for the Arts

“This show is funny and contains a very good message,” said Michael Carrasco, director of the SCERA’s take on the chaotic Christmas comedy. “I consider it a great break from holiday madness, even if there is madness onstage.”

In the show, six delinquent children cause widespread panic when they take over the local Christmas pageant, leaving first-time director Grace and the church’s Reverend scrambling to salvage the show and help the community see the Christmas story and the Herdman kids in a new light.

“The character of Grace is the heart of the show and helps the audience understand that it is not always outside appearances that count, but rather those on the inside,” Carrasco said.

“We have a cast of 36, and children comprise two-thirds of the players,” he continued. “Working with kids has its challenges, but it comes with contagious fun that makes what’s happening on stage very real and sincere.”

When: Mondays and Wednesdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 15

Where: SCERA Center for the Arts, 745 S. State St., Orem

Cost: $6-$14

More info: scera.org/events/the-best-christmas-pageant-ever

‘The Forgotten Carols’ at the UCCU Center

“The Forgotten Carols” is Michael McLean’s heartwarming story about a nurse named Constance (Connie Lou), who, with the help of a new patient and the insights of lesser-known characters from the nativity story, opens her heart to the joy and true spirit of the Christmas season.

“My biggest hope is that (audiences) will find something that helps them remember what has been forgotten about Christmas: Where the heart of it is, where the magic of it is, where the wonder of it is and where the spirit of it is, and if you’re just (seeing the show) for the first time, and you’re brand new, you can take this ride with the characters,” McLean said during an interview with the Herald last year. “I hope people who have seen it before feel enriched and grateful that they came again.”

When: Dec. 17 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: UCCU Center, Utah Valley University, 800 W. University Parkway, Orem

Cost: $12-$32.50

More info: forgottencarols.com/shows/uccu-center-2

Liken’s ‘The First Christmas’ at the Hive Collaborative

It’s been just a few short months since The Hive Collaborative first opened its doors and began presenting new works, and now it’s bringing to life a new take on a family favorite, Liken’s “The First Christmas.”

Hive co-founder Dennis Agle originally penned the non-musical parts of the scriptural first Christmas account for the Liken the Scriptures’ musical movies before taking it onstage with the SCERA Center for the Arts as a holiday show from 2012-14.

Initially dismissing it as “far too big of a production to fit in our intimate space,” Agle said he and his co-founder and brother Ken Agle eventually decided to do a small cast adaptation of “The First Christmas” with the audience playing the role of the “Heavenly Host Choir.”

“I think it gives the audience a chance to feel a special connection to the events being depicted in the show, Dennis said. “To us, this feels in a sense like the world premiere of a new show, and the intimacy of the space makes it even more impactful.”

“It’s a chilly world out there right now in more ways than one,” Dennis said of his hope for the play. “We know we’re off the beaten path both in terms of where our theater is located and the productions we are staging, but our hope is that those who bravely venture out to find us will be rewarded with an evening that leaves them feeling of a greater connection to others as we are reminded not of what divides us, but what we have in common.”

When: Mondays and Thursdays-Saturdays at 7 p.m. through Dec. 22

Where: The Hive Collaborative, 591 S. 300 West, Provo

Cost: $7.50-$15

More info: thehivecollaborative.com

'Over the River and Through the Woods' at the Covey Center for the Arts

The cast of "Over the River and Through the Woods" at the Covey Center for the Arts.

“Over the River and Through the Woods” at the Covey Center for the Arts

A trip to see the grandparents is just a regular part of a Sunday afternoon for Italian-American Nick. But when he’s offered the job of his dreams across the country from both sets of grandparents, their well-intentioned ploys to get him to stay remind audiences of the best and worst parts of visiting with family around the holidays. The show is summed up in two simple words by director Robinne Booth, “TENGO FAMILIA!”

When: Mondays and Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. through Dec. 21

Where: Covey Center for the Arts, 425 W. Center St., Provo

Cost: $14-$16

More info: coveycenter.org

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