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An unconventional 'Christmas Carol' comes to North End

Posted by boston.com  December 17, 2013 11:40 AM

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By Jackie Tempera, Globe Correspondent

An unconventional version of Charles Dickinson’s A Christmas Carol hit the stage in the North End last weekend. The performance was a musical, led by a 12-year-old female Scrooge.

Elizabeth Carey, 12, played the curmudgeon — a role she’s been preparing for since September, she said.

“I’m not really a mean person,” said the North End resident. “So, it was really hard to act like that.”

Carey, along with 24 children ages 7 to 12 from the North End Music and Performing Arts Center (NEMPAC), put on two shows on the Boston Harbor Community Church’s basement stage. The Friday night performance and Sunday matinee were part of the school’s musical theatre troop class, according to the center’s executive director, Sherri Snow.

NEMPAC is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to offering affordable arts education to children, according to the group’s website.

Alia Roberts, 23, choreographed, wrote and directed this version of the Christmas play. She said she’s been working with NEMPAC since September 2012.

"It’s a great program,” said the Harvard Medical School student. “To teach kids how to act, and to appreciate music is rewarding. And I love to see how far they come by the end.”

Roberts helped choreograph two previous productions — Annie and Alice and Wonderland, but she said this was her first time in the director’s seat.

“It was different,” she said. “But I’m so proud of all of the kids.”

Roberts said her decision to cast Carey as Scrooge came on the first day of auditions in September. She said Carey immediately took to the role.

“She was unbelievable, I knew it would be a hard part, I had to pick someone I trusted,” she said.

Roberts said she decided on a female Scrooge because she likes to play with gender roles in her performances.

“[Gender] is something I try to not to pay too much attention to, or follow the norms with,” she said. “It is time to break these ideas, Scrooge can be played by a girl.”

This was Carey’s first performance, and first acting course, she said. Though she enjoyed it and hopes to continue acting, she said she would like to be a traffic engineer when she is older.

Alexandra Dietrich, 28, wrote the score for the performance. She teaches the Friday evening course and has for a few years.

“I love doing it,” she said.

The class runs three times annually and costs $195 per student, said Snow.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and Emerson College.

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