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A Christmas present from Reading Rep

Published: 13 Dec 2012 09:301 comment

The tale of Christmas past, present and future will come to life at Reading College Performing Arts Centre from Monday, December 24, to Wednesday, January 2, 2013.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL: Oliver Dench, great nephew of Dame Judi Dench.

With all of the much-loved characters, including Tiny Tim and Ebenezer Scrooge, Charles Dickens' classic has paved the way for many adaptations on the stage and screen - not least Tommy Steele as Scrooge at the London Palladium! However, as Paul Stacey, artistic director for Reading Rep Theatre, tells The Guide, this is like nothing you will have seen before. He said: "It is completely new and the fact we've got this big space at the college means we have written the adaptation around the space."

And with a mock Victorian theatre built within the theatre, it's a spectacle you'll have to see to believe, Paul told us.

Explaining why the professional theatre company picked the festive story, Paul added: "We started with The Dumb Waiter. That went really well, but it's quite a heavy and complex piece, and we wanted something a bit lighter and family oriented with carols and Christmas revelry."

"I think it offers a little bit of everything. It's slightly tongue in cheek and what you hope people will find great for the whole family. There is a musical element, with the carol singing recurring throughout."

He added: "There is a cast of around six actors playing a number of parts. It's faithful to the book and it's funny."

The show took around six months to write, including a week of workshops and script reworking, and rehearsals began two weeks ago. As well as a spectacular cast of ex West End and Royal Shakespeare Company talents, the performance sees Oliver Dench, great nephew of acting royalty Dame Judi Dench, from nearby Shiplake, take to the stage.

"We're trying to build up an ensemble company, branching out when we can and working with actors over a period of time. We try to recruit locally to try to build something in and for Reading."

Paul revealed very healthy sales for the production so far and is encouraging families to take advantage of the £30 for a family of four (plus a Reading Arts booking fee) ticket deal in a bid to make their performances affordable for theatre-goers. And with plans for Reading Rep in 2013 well underway and 2014 already in motion, Paul said: "It's looking promising and we have had some great feedback and support."

Tickets are £10, or £30 for a family of four. Buy tickets from www.readingarts.com or by calling 01183 750 280. See www.readingrep.com for more information.

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