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'A Christmas Carol': Classic play to be set in 1950s

Dave Moffett, center, portrays Ebenezer Scrooge in "A Christmas Carol" as he is visited by three spirits, Kathryn Lavelle, Mike Hardin and Al Berkowitz, in the Christmas favorite presented by KG Entertainment and the Paul Bunyan Playhouse. The play opens 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a 4 p.m. Saturday matinee, and 7:30 p.m. Dec. 10, 11 and 12 at Paul Bunyan Playhouse. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

For Greg Gasman and KG Entertainment, it's like coming full circle being back at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse.

In the mid-1990s, Gasman acted in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" productions at the playhouse, and then turned to directing the play in the late 1990s. The playhouse turned to other holiday productions, like "Miracle on 34th Street," and finally stopped doing holiday shows.

"Two years ago, I staged the show in Kelleher, and last year at the Boy's and Girl's Club of Bemidji, and we sold out every night," said Gasman. "Now, I am bringing it back to where it started."

Recognized as the Bemidji Friend of the Arts 2009, Gasman has a Bachelor of Arts in theater from St. Cloud State University and then went on to Los Angeles for a few years, only to return to this area because of the acting opportunities at the Paul Bunyan Playhouse, which was then housed at Ruttgers. A few years ago, he founded KG Entertainment and produced shows that have remained in the public's memory such as "Twelve Angry Men" in the Bemidji historic court house.

"Being back at the playhouse is a treat,' said Gasman.

This year, he is collaborating with the Paul Bunyan Playhouse to bring "Christmas Carol" back to its roots here in Bemidji. The play this year is staged in the 1950s, and the audience will get the chance to sing along with the cast in such songs as "Jingle Bell Rock."

Scrooge, as played by Dave Moffett, will be dressed in a business suit and Wyatt Yartz will be a cowboy-costumed Tiny Tim. Al Berkowitz returns as Marley's Ghost, and Derrick Houle, who last played in the 2000 PBP version, returns to this show as Bob Cratchit. The musical director is Karen Bradley accompanied by Wayne Hoff, and the chorus is comprised of many newcomers, as well as those who have enjoyed being in a Gasman show before. This year, a guitar player, Matt Osberg, will join the production.

There will also be guests on stage, one of whom will be Todd Haugen who will appear with his daughter and sing a holiday song.

The show opens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 4. The other evening performances are Saturday, Dec. 5, Thursday, Dec. 10, Friday, Dec. 11, and Saturday, Dec.12. There will be a 4 p.m. performance on Saturday, Dec. 5, at the historic Chief Theatre, 314 Beltrami Ave. N.W.

Tickets are $10 for the general public, $8 for students and seniors and free for children 10 and younger. They are for sale at Harmony Natural Food Coop and Wild Hare Bistro & Coffee House.