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Scrooge continues Dec. 11-13 at 7 p.m. and Dec. 14 at 3 p.m. at Family Church.
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The cast includes 182 people, most of whom are Family Church members.
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Audiences witness old Mr. Scrooge encounter three different angels, leading him to a change of heart and a decision that alters the entire course of his life.
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Free general admission tickets for all performances are available and may be reserved at www.familychurch.org.
In August 1997, Worship Pastor Arvil Ogle set the air conditioning as low as it would go and turned a room at Family Church into a winter wonderland, complete with Christmas trees and fake snow. His summer Christmas party included a showing of “The Gospel According to Scrooge” performed by a troupe from another church. Ogle had the vision of bringing the musical to life at Family Church, but he was starting from square one.
His vision was to do something unique, different from the typical cantata or church play. Seventeen years later, that vision is a reality as Ogle and his team prepare for the fourteenth production of “The Gospel According to Scrooge,” set to run this December. Ogle says what sets this church production apart is its Broadway-style, high-energy singing and dancing cast. “We never sing a song just staring at the audience. Every song is interactive; every song has physical action.”
The production, which has come to be known affectionately around the church and community simply as “Scrooge,” has exceeded Ogle’s expectations. “In those early years, we had to borrow men dancers from the Little Theater. Today 99% of the people you see hit the stage are regular attenders of Family Church.” The cast now includes 182 people, to be exact, to pull off the eight performances offered each year. Where once Ogle and his wife, Cheryl, tried to manage the whole production, there are now seasoned leaders who have stepped up to direct whole teams in production, set-design, make-up, choreography, costume design, technology and lighting.
Early on, the church printed little tickets and handed them out to the community to get people to come. Today, over 8,000 people from four different states go online to reserve their tickets a month in advance. That number includes 1,100 students from local schools who attend a daytime performance reserved just for them. Still, despite the growth and popularity of “The Gospel According to Scrooge,” Ogle remains humble saying, “I’m blown away that people still come after all these years, but it has become a tradition for many families as a way to start their celebration of the Christmas season.”
Besides being a fun holiday outing for families, Ogle believes people desperately need to hear the message of “Scrooge,” which is actually an adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” Audiences witness old Mr. Scrooge encounter three different angels, leading him to a change of heart and a decision that alters the entire course of his life. It is a message of hope. What has made Family Church’s production so enduring is that it wraps that message in song, dance, humor and a high-quality set, which has grown to two semi-trucks full of period sets and equipment.
Family Church believes so strongly in the message that they continue to offer the production as a gift to the community. “That’s a value that hasn’t changed for us,” Ogle insists. “We find sponsors to help us put this on so that tickets are free.”
He also believes that the musical is also a gift to those who come back year after year to participate. “It brings great life to the people involved; they feel connected. This year is the fourth or fifth generation of kids that have waited their turn to be in ‘Scrooge.’ ”
Phillip Brooks, who plays the role of the title character, is one of over twenty people who have been in “Scrooge” since the very beginning. “The reason I continue to participate after all these years is because I know lives are being eternally changed. People leave thinking about their relationship with God and with other people and what needs to change.”
As is only fitting for Family Church, the production is a family affair for the Ogles and many other families in the congregation. All of the Ogle children, now 19, 18, and 16, have grown up in “Scrooge.” Middle child, Savannah, who now plays Adult Alice remembers, “When we were younger, we would always have the ‘Scrooge’ talk; Mom and Dad would sit us down and lay out how the next season was going to be really busy and how we all needed to stick together. Some of my favorite memories, actually, are the days when we would have to stay in my dad's office until late at night while Mom and Dad were working on ‘Scrooge’ things. I think us Ogle kids looked at this responsibility more with pride than anything else. We loved being at the church with our favorite people doing what we loved. We don't see ‘Scrooge’ as something that takes away from our Christmas season. ‘Scrooge’ is our Christmas season; we love it.”
Free general admission tickets for all performances are available and may be reserved at www.familychurch.org. There are also a few $10 reserved seating tickets available for purchase. Show times are December 4-6 and 11-13 at 7 p.m. and December 14 at 3 p.m.