Rusty Salling has been playing Ebenezer Scrooge for more than 20 years, and he will do so again starting Saturday at the Hippodrome Theater in downtown Gainesville.
The Hippodrome, Gainesville Community Playhouse and High Springs Community Theater are all preparing for their holiday shows. The Hippodrome’s artistic director, Lauren Caldwell, said “A Christmas Carol” is an important reminder of the true meaning of the holiday season.
“‘A Christmas Carol’ has the romance of tradition. Families come, bring their children, people who are looking for a reminder of what Christmas time is really about,” she said. “I think ‘A Christmas Carol’ is that story that reminds us of who we are, what our responsibility is to each other, so it’s more traditional.”
The theater is also presenting a performance of “A Tuna Christmas,” and Caldwell highly recommends this play if people are looking for something tongue-in-cheek. “A Tuna Christmas” takes place in Tuna, Texas, where the two central characters are concerned about “The Christmas Phantom.”
In the spirit of the holiday season, the Hippodrome is offering a promotion for both productions: Children can get in free through Dec. 11 if parents bring a canned food item or new toy. The food will be donated to the Bread of the Mighty Food Bank and the toys will be donated to Toys for Tots.
The Gainesville Community Playhouse will also be putting on a whimsical holiday production. Its presentation of “Seussical,” a musical based on the many books of Dr. Seuss, premieres Friday. Many of Dr. Seuss’ most famous characters will be featured in the play, including Horton the Elephant from Horton Hears a Who and The Cat in the Hat.
The High Springs Community Theater is putting on a performance of its own, what it’s calling a heartwarming performance of “The Homecoming: A Christmas Story.” Many people will remember this play as the basis for the television series “The Waltons.”
The cast of 28 includes 15 children, who range from ages 9 to 16 years old. David Aiken, the play’s assistant director, said the family theme for the play will leave audiences with a good feeling leaving.
“The byline that we have adopted for the play is ‘family is the biggest gift of all.’ I’m excited about it,” Aiken said. “I think the audiences are going to walk out of the theater feeling that they’ve gained a valuable holiday experience.”