By Andra Bryan Stefanoni
Globe Staff Writer
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Hundreds of people lined Moffet Avenue on Saturday night to join in DickensFest, an interactive event celebrating writer Charles Dickens and one of his most famous works, “A Christmas Carol.”
Going on its third year, DickensFest brings a bit of Victorian England to the historic Murphysburg area of Joplin, with outdoor scenes borrowed from the holiday classic about Ebenezer Scrooge and his visit by three spirits that change his “bah humbug” attitude toward Christmas.
Put on by Historic Murphysburg Preservation Inc., the festival included live actors performing in a reconstructed English village near First United Methodist Church, 501 W. 4th St.
Members of local acting troupe Dream Theater have participated all three years of the festival. Actor Jeremy Bright, in his first year of the production, plays the Ghost of Christmas Present.
“I watched several different versions of ‘A Christmas Carol,’ and I wanted to get this down right,” Bright said. “A lot of it is improv when talking to people in the crowd between the scenes, and as an actor you want to be able to talk to them like they are really talking to that character. There is a lot of work that goes in to that.”
In addition to the scenes from the book, the group performs Christmas dance numbers.
“There are several people who have done this all three years,” Bright said. “They try to build off the production and to increase interactivity with the crowds. All of that work is worth it, because people really seem to enjoy coming out to this.”
DickensFest fans Wayne and Chris Smith said the event is one of Joplin’s best-kept Christmas secrets.
“This is an absolute can’t-miss type of thing for Christmas,” Wayne Smith said. “It’s so refreshing to see a Christmas time that gets things back to the time of family and the meaning of the season.”
Chris Smith said that the work that goes into the production is evident.
“You can’t find another thing like this in the area,” she said. “The actors are a lot of fun, and you can tell that they enjoy working with the people who come out to this. It’s the reason we came back this year.”
DickensFest will wrap up today with the final production from 6 to 8:30 p.m.