CANTON -- East Canton is well represented this year in the Canton Player's Guild production of the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol."
Austin Gantz, Jessica Marshall, Malissa Storsin and Ruben Raines, all from East Canton, are part of the cast of the musical that runs through Dec. 16 at the Cultural Center of the Arts, 1001 Market Ave N.
Jessica and Malissa, classmates in the senior class at East Canton High School, both have experience in theatre and both plan to study musical theater in college.
This is the second year Jessica, the daughter of Jeff and Jenise, has been in the cast of "A Christmas Carol." She has also been in the Guild's production of "Wishes." At East Canton High School, Jessica has been in "Wizard of Oz," "Footloose" and "Beauty and the Beast," and at the Meyers Lake Ballroom she was in "Cinderella."
"I absolutely love it," Jessica said of being in the play. "Everybody helps you. They don't just put you out on the stage. They help you. It is a great learning experience, and I would recommend it to anyone interesting in learning more about theater."
Jessica portrays Bessie Fezziwig and Clara, and she is a broom dancer in the production.
This is the first year for Malissa, the daughter of Bill and Kara, to be in "A Christmas Carol," but she has been in other productions in the area. She was in "Beauty and the Beast" and "Wizard of Oz" at East Canton; "Cinderella" at Meyers Lake and "Where's My Tony?" at the North Canton Playhouse. In January, she will return to the Playhouse to be a part of the cast of "South Pacific."
"I was excited to be a part of the tradition of the Christmas Carol," said Malissa about the presentation, which is in its 31st season, "It is a lot of work but it is fun."
Malissa is part of the citizens of London ensemble.
Gantz, who graduated in the spring of this year from East Canton, played the part of the "beast" in the school's "Beauty and the Beast. He was also in "Footloose." In this current production, he portrays "The Ghost of Christmas Present."
Ruben, a fourth-grader at East Canton and the son of Julie Raines and Jake Watts, is in his first production, other than being involved in a church play. He was inspired to try out for a part by family friend, Jessica Marshall. Ruben stays busy by playing three parts in the play-- Scrooge as a boy, Ignorance and turkey boy.
"Kinda liking it," said Ruben about his first acting experience on the big stage. "I get to skip school!"
Nine-year-old Ruben, who definitely has an outgoing personality, said he was "kind of nervous" on his first night in the play, but he said the other cast members have helped him a lot. He also added that "seeing all the other characters in the play" has been one of the best parts. He definitely plans to pursue other acting possibilities.
The beloved holiday tradition is done annually by the Guild. The ghostly story of Ebenezer Scrooge and the emotional journey towards his redemption is told through soul-stirring melodies and a soaring score. Elaborate sets and lavish costumes will transport audiences back to Victorian London as Dickens' tale fills them with the spirit of Christmas.
A Christmas Carol has been adapted into a musical by composer Steve Parsons and lyricist John Popa.
Performances are at 8 p.m., on Friday, 2 and 8 p.m., on Saturday and at 2 p.m., on Sunday. Individual tickets for the performances are $25 for adults, $19 for those 17 and younger and $23 for seniors. Tickets for all performances may be purchased in person at the Players Guild Box Office, located in the Great Court of the Cultural Center for the Arts or by calling 330-453-7617. Tickets are also available online 24 hours a day at www.playersguildtheatre.com.
An all access event will be held on Saturday, Dec. 15, at 12:30 p.m., followed by a performance at 2. All access event passes, which include the backstage tour, luncheon and a reserved ticket to the performance, are $40 each and are available through the Players Guild Theatre Box Office.
Other members of the cast include:
Ebeneezer Scrooge - Don Jones
Bob Cratchit - Matthew Horning
Bob Cratchit (understudy) - Walter Shepard
Fred - Chad Burgert
Tiny Tim - Gabe Scott
Young Ebeneezer - Chad Burgert
Belle / Elizabeth - Emily Schrader
Ghost of Christmas Past / Mrs. Cratchit - Michele Chaho
Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come - Liam Roth
Jacob Marley / Old Joe - Tom Bryant
Dick Wilkins - Wes Morales
Collecting Man 1 - Jaime Stabile
Collecting Man 2 / Topper - Gregory Rininger
Collecting Man 3 / Mr. Fezziwig - Scotland Gallo
Mrs. Fezziwig - Jennifer Anderson
Rogue Soloist - Taylor Scott
Cora - Brittany Dollinar
Mrs. Dilber - Janet Jones
Molly - Linda Teis
Martha Cratchit - Andrea Hartman
Belinda Cratchit - Savannah Smith
Sarah Cratchit / Want - Karsen Bratton
Fan - Libby DiLauro
Peter Cratchit - Alex Derlich
Ensemble / Citizen of London: Tara Shooks, Hannah Norton, Juchelle Jewell, Anaisha Hardy and Melody Rexrode
Broom Dancers: Serena Fromino, Wes Morales, Brittany Dollinar, Chad Burgert and Michele Chaho.
The Guild is a non-profit, volunteer-based theatre, which is always looking for new volunteers to get involved. The information on becoming a volunteer is also on the website.