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Skaneateles Prepares for Another Season of Holiday Magic
Dickens Christmas Opens Nov. 27

Close your eyes and imagine. It’s easy if you try.

The year is 1842.

You’ve just met Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria, strolling the village streets.

They’re accompanied by Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley, Fagin, the Cratchits, the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and assorted townspeople and street urchins—all delighted to meet you and draw you into their world.

The revels play. Visitors ride by in horse–drawn carriages. And there are free refreshments for all.

In Skaneateles, it’s just a typical holiday weekend.

Dickens Christmas returns for its 16th year the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs noon to 4 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 20, with a limited show (noon to 3 p.m.) Dec. 24.

The event—produced by Scarlett Rat Entertainment and presented by Verizon and Skaneateles-area businesses—draws some 20,000 visitors each year to this picturesque Finger Lakes community.

“We invite Dickens fans from near and far to step back in time and join us for a slower-paced, more enjoyable atmosphere, where shopping can still be fun,” says Susan Dove, executive director of the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce.

“Improvisational street theater, live music, and our 70-plus shops and restaurants make for wonderful family memories. A live brass band plays every Saturday on the village streets; a bagpiper or two may be found entertaining on Sundays; and local musical groups share their many talents in that heartwarming Dickens spirit.”

Highlights include:

• The Revels Live—Christmas carol sing-along—2 p.m. every day at the Gazebo. Twelve groups form, each representing one of the 12 days of Christmas. The groups vie for attention, and at the end, Queen Victoria awards a silver teasel to the most spirited performer. Winners have been known to wear their coveted silver teasels throughout the season.

• Free carriage rides around the village, provided by Chariots of Downtown. Rides depart from the Sherwood Inn on Saturdays and Creekside Books & Coffee on Sundays.

• Roasted chestnuts in front of Johnny Angel’s, donated by P&C Foods and roasted by Mid-Lakes Navigation.

• Cider and donuts at the Skaneateles Hotel.

• Hot chocolate on Saturdays, served by local Girl Scouts, at M&T Bank.

• Magic shows by John Henry Anderson, Wonderful Wizard from the North, Dec. 5, 6, 12, 13, 19 and 20 at 1 and 3 p.m. at the Skaneateles Library.

• Scenes from “A Christmas Carol,” acted out on village streets.

Entertainment—and education—provided for and by children

Children who visit can hear holiday stories read by Mother Goose at the Skaneateles Library, or receive treats from Father Christmas on the porch of the Masonic Temple.

But those who join the cast derive so much more.

Scarlett Rat Entertainment, which is committed to artistic growth and community involvement, offers a Dickens Academy, providing workshops for the youth cast and affording them the opportunity to work with successful professionals. The program—which uses improvisational exercises focused on developing a character for an experiential life lesson—aims to Build Character by Building Characters.

Expectations are clearly stated, and each youth participant and his or her parent sign an agreement at the outset of the program.

“Through the Dickens Academy, young people learn to elevate each other and make positive choices,” says Jim Greene, who heads Scarlett Rat. ”We set the bar high, and we expect kids to step up. With this experience come self-awareness, respect for others, and growth and maturity.”

Two graduates of the academy—Lydia Shahan and Gretchen Thomas—are now youth cast captains, assisting the directors during workshops.

“It’s rewarding to watch young people mature and make better choices,” says Greene, who has plans to expand the academy.

Behind the scenes

Dickens Christmas has a cast of about 60 (30 of whom are children). The show comes together in just six rehearsals. “We pack a lot in, and streamline the process of building a character,” says Greene, who also serves as producing director and plays Charles Dickens. “Every actor learns music and uses improvisational techniques to build his character. It helps that many of the actors return year after year.”

Assisting Greene are four associate directors: Maria Wechsler (who plays Queen Victoria and oversees character development), Kelly Stallard (who plays Abigail Fillmore and oversees music), Brian Goldblatt (who plays Fagin and oversees production of the Staves) and Tracey Greene (who oversees costumes).

Father Christmas sponsors are The ADworks, Chariots of Downtown, Johnny Angel’s, KeyBank, M&T Bank, the Sherwood Inn, and the Verizon Small Business Unit.

Media sponsors are News 10 Now, Eagle Newspapers, The Citizen/Skaneateles Journal, The Post-Standard, the Syracuse New Times, WCNY and WRVO.

“Visitors should come ready to have a good time and interact with the characters,” says Greene. “We invite people to experience the magic of Dickens. The real magic is in the interaction, and in the stories that unfold.”

For more information on Dickens Christmas, go to http://www.skaneateles.com or call 315-685-0552.

Contact: Sue Dove
Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce

Posted: Thursday, November 5th, 2009 @ 1:15 pm by Curt
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masterworks_chorale Central New Yorkmasterworks_chorale_maureen_mccauley


Familiar Carols and Christmas Anthems
Sunday  December  21, 2008 4:00 pm
St Mary’s of the Lake Roman Catholic Church
81 Jordan St., Skaneateles, NY 13152
MasterWorks Chorale was founded as Marcellus Chorale in 1965 by Dr. Joseph Centrone, the Chorale’s first conductor. Dr. Centrone formed a chorus from four church choirs in Marcellus, New York. The present conductor, Maureen McCauley, assumed leadership in 1977.

Throughout the years, Chorale has presented a wide variety of performances. Christmas concerts have ranged from cabarets with choreography and costumes, to joint concerts with local choirs, high school groups, and handbell choirs. Original productions of popular choral arrangements with choreography, dialogue, and costuming were presented for many years. Marcellus Chorale performed jointly with other community choral groups, including the Oneida Area Civic Chorale, Endwell Community Chorus, Oswego Festival Chorus, and Mt. Carmel Seventh-Day Adventist Church.

MasterWorks Chorale, Inc.
PO Box 27
Marcellus, NY  13108

Gradually an increasing emphasis was placed upon performing classical music. In 1988, Marcellus Chorale reorganized and incorporated as an auditioned group with the purpose of presenting choral masterworks.

The Chorale voted to change the name of the musical organization to MasterWorks Chorale in 196 to more adequately describe the music performed and to reflect the fact that members come from a wide geographical area. Since that time, the repertoire has focused upon works of major composers such as Verdi’s Requiem Mass, the Bach’s B Minor Mass, Mozart’s Vespers, and Brahms’ Liebeslieder Walzer.

In keeping with the goal of presenting the finest in choral music to Central New York audiences, MasterWorks Chorale often employs professional soloists and orchestral accompaniment.

Presently the singers hail from three counties: Onondaga, Oswego, and Cayuga. The hallmark of participation is a desire to aspire to the highest artistic standards.

MasterWorks Chorale welcomes vocalists who embrace the classics. Come join a dedicated group of singers who enjoy performing great works of the masters.
There are generally three major performances each year. The winter concert features one or more major works by classical composers. MasterWorks Chorale is also available for subscription concerts.

MasterWorks Chorale performs throughout Central New York, principally in Onondaga and Cayuga Counties. Performance locations have included Auburn, Aurora, Camillus, Marcellus, Skaneateles, Syracuse and Oswego.

Our orchestra musicians have typically come from the ranks of the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. In seasons past, we collaborated with the Auburn Chamber Orchestra to present Mozart’s Requiem, and with the Syracuse Chorale in Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis and the Berlioz Requiem.

Posted: Sunday, December 21st, 2008 @ 8:16 am by Curt
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New York Institute of Dance and Education presents the wonderful holiday variety show
Tuesday, December 23, 20008 at 7:00pm

with Sean McLeod, Alex Cowings, Brian Morey, Jerami Kipp, Lorienne Beals & special surprise guests!

A great show for the family.

Tickets only $15 available at APT, NYIDE & Bambino’s Bistro




Contact: Janie@auburnpublictheater.com for info


Auburn Public Theater is available for rental for corporate and private functions.

For information about our Movie Theater, Cafe Stage or Theater Stage:


Posted: Thursday, December 11th, 2008 @ 2:37 pm by Curt
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Christmas in Aurora

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Village-wide Christmas sales, children’s activities and entertainment, and a visit from Santa capped
off by a holiday party at the Aurora Inn with a preview of “A Christmas Carol”, which will be
playing at the Morgan Opera House in December.


Village of Aurora
http://www.auroraartsandmerchants.com/ for more information

Posted: Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008 @ 8:11 pm by Curt
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Dickens Christmas Celebrates 15th Anniversary

It began as a simple thank-you from village merchants to the Skaneateles community. Now, 15 years later, Dickens Christmas provides cherished holiday memories for thousands of families regionally and nationally.

Dickens Christmas—which opens the Friday after Thanksgiving and runs noon to 4 p.m. every weekend until Christmas—is improvisational street theater. Costumed Victorian characters wander the village streets, interacting with each other and with the public.

Horse-drawn carriage rides, carolers, concerts, chestnuts roasting on an open fire, refreshments, children’s activities, free costume rentals, locals night—all were there from the start and continue, in expanded form, as attractions today.

Dickens Christmas was the brainchild of Karen Foltz, owner of Pomodoro and Pomodoro Too, who had seen a similar production in Minnesota and—as a board member of the Skaneateles Area Chamber of Commerce—was looking for ways to boost business. “A lot of people now bring their family and friends—it’s a highlight of their holidays,” says Foltz, who serves as co-chair of the Dickens Christmas Committee. She notes the program began as “a fun little thing to do.”

Dickens Christmas was launched in 1993 under the direction of two area event planners—Lorraine Smoral and Gloria Romeo.  They were followed by Skaneateles resident Ted Davenport, who was followed by Wrynkle in Time Productions, of Rochester. Since 2001, the program has been produced by Scarlett Rat Entertainment, under the direction of Jim Greene (a.k.a. Mr. Dickens), of Dryden, N.Y.

With Scarlett Rat came the premise for the production: In 1842, Charles Dickens and Queen Victoria visit Skaneateles. Based on the characters they meet on village streets—Ebenezer Scrooge, Tiny Tim, Jacob Marley—Dickens writes “A Christmas Carol” upon his return to London.

Over the years, the cast has grown from about 30 to 50 (more than half of whom are professional, paid actors), and the level of professionalism has greatly increased, as has the number of musical and theatrical offerings. The number of local residents participating remains an important part of the show.

Greene jokes that, as producer, he hires talented people and takes all the credit. But he says much of the program’s current success is due to the work of artistic director Maria Wechsler, whom he describes as “brilliant,” and musical director Kelly Stallard, who “has a gift for empowering everyone to sing with their own voice.”

Many of the professional actors are affiliated with the Sterling Renaissance Festival, which is where Greene was working in 1999 when he first took part in Dickens Christmas (playing Emerson Wales, the Rat Catcher). About 90 percent of the cast returns each year. “There’s a lot of love there,” says Greene, whose wife and children have all been a part of the production. “It’s a wonderful way to share the holiday season.”

One constant over the years has been Onondaga Hill resident Bob Krigbaum in the role of Scrooge.

“People get a kick out of my asking the shopkeepers for rent,” Krigbaum says. “I have a ball with it. Once I go into a store, it’s like magnetism. I have them laughing out loud.

“To be Scrooge, you have to be mean. It’s tough to be mean,” he says. “You learn to think real quick, to have an answer for whatever comes your way. Sometimes, people’s reactions are different than what you’d expect.”

Even after 15 years, Krigbaum has no difficulty keeping the character fresh. “The people you interact with help you do that,” he says. “Every time I come out here, it’s the first time.”

Krigbaum’s portrayal of Scrooge is drawn from three movies: “A Christmas Carol” (1951), “Scrooge” (1970) and “The Muppet Christmas Carol” (1992). According to Krigbaum, that makes the character—in turns—serious, funny and musical.

Krigbaum, who is a full-time professional actor with a degree in theater, spends the season playing not only Scrooge, but also Santa Claus (at Burnet Park). A man of many talents, he also is a professional clown, mime, World War II re-enactor and local TV personality.

Both Krigbaum and Greene recall having posed for hundreds of holiday photos. “When people ask to take my picture, I tell them, ‘It will cost you a shady penny,’ and they’ll give me one,” Krigbaum says.

“It’s been a real joy to share this work with my family,” says Greene. “Do I have a favorite moment? No. That’s like asking if I have a favorite child. But there’s been a lot of funny stuff, touching stuff, over the years.”

One of the most emotional moments for him, Greene says, was when he presented a check to the Skaneateles Fire Department in 2001, following 9/11.

As for the funny stuff, Greene says: “My job is to make people laugh all day. I help people create memories with their families. I’m pretty lucky to have this be my work.”

The real Mr. Dickens couldn’t have said it better.


Posted: Tuesday, November 11th, 2008 @ 11:49 am by Curt
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