The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 7, 2012

Victorian cheer: DickensFest an annual tribute to legendary author

JOPLIN, Mo. — In its third year, a Christmastime event dedicated to another time will be held this weekend. DickensFest, a tribute to the legendary author of "A Christmas Carol," will re-create a Victorian village and other nuances of the writer's worlds.

The stars of the event will be members of the Dream Theatre Company, who will bring characters from "A Christmas Carol" to life.

"We couldn't do it without them," Historic Murphysburg Preservation Director Paula Callihan said. "They are the magic in this whole thing. It's entertainment you can't get anywhere else."

The festival, with a grant from the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, is organized by the Preservation. The event includes five buildings erected on Third Street behind First United Methodist Church.

New features in this year's event include:

  • A live nativity scene.
  • Magician Jay Temaat performing today and Sunday.
  • Music performed in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church. Performing artists include Qualls Quintets and Show-Me-Harmony today, Keenagers and Heartland Band on Saturday and a church program on Sunday.
  • Vendors, arts and crafts inside the church's family life center.

Other standbys, such as horse-drawn carriage rides, pictures with Santa Claus, a kiddie train, a petting zoo and performances of scenes from "A Christmas Carol," will also be featured.

Acting out

Members of Dream Theatre have re-enacted story roles ever since the inaugural event in 2010. They put on brief plays on the street and stay in their roles as they interact with visitors.

Actors take to their parts well -- even though the cast changes out because of availability, the actors pick up new lines, choreography and accents easily. Becki Gooch, director of Dream Theatre, said the challenge isn't in the acting, however -- it's in the costumes.

"Costuming is probably the hardest part," Gooch said. "There are lots of outfits from the '20s and '70s that reflect Victorian trends. But specifically for 'A Christmas Carol,' there are lots of layers, hoop skirts. That's a challenge every year."

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