* What: "The Nutcracker Christmas Carol: A Holiday Musical."
* When: 7:30 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, Dec. 6-7 and Dec. 13-14; 2:30 p.m. Sundays, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15.
* Where: Humanities Theatre, Chattanooga State Community College, 4501 Amnicola Highway.
* Admission: $15 adults, $10 students, $5 children; free for Chattanooga State students, faculty and staff with ID.
* Phone: 423-697-3246 (reservations not necessary).
A production reviewers have deemed "a holiday classic" and "a hoot" returns to Chattanooga State Community College for the next two weekends.
"The Nutcracker Christmas Carol: A Holiday Musical," presented annually by the Chattanooga State Repertory Theatre, combines all the great Christmas stories into a single holiday musical suitable for the whole family.
Rex Knowles, who wrote the book and lyrics, explains the origin of the musical: "I asked myself this question: What if I found in the back room of the British Library a first draft of Charles Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol,' and within those pages were the seeds of every Christmas story we know today?"
His first draft began with "A Christmas Carol" and "The Nutcracker."
"I had so much fun combining the two that I added snippets from 'It's a Wonderful Life,' 'Miracle on 34th Street,' 'The Gift of the Magi' and 'The Grinch Who Stole Christmas,'" he says.
Knowles collaborated with Sherry Landrum and Allan Ledford on the music. Landrum says the piece was created as a lighthearted spoof, but Dickens' influence on later writers became ever more apparent.
"As we worked, we realized how much all Christmas stories owe to 'A Christmas Carol,' Dickens' great story of human transformation and redemption," she explains.
"The theme of Scrooge, the penurious tyrant, and his worker Bob Cratchit, the thoroughly good human being, resonates throughout all the stories: The Grinch steals Christmas from Whoville. Mr. Potter takes Bedford Falls from George Bailey. Fred Gailey fights the psychologist, Mr. Shelhamer, to protect the name of Santa Claus.
"The innocence of childhood in the archetype of Tiny Tim runs through all as well in the characters of Little Cindy-Lou Who, George Bailey's children and young Susan Walker. 'It's a Wonderful Life' even brings in a ghost, Clarence Oddbody, who gives George Bailey the chance to see the future and realize that goodness is its own reward."
The musical contains 10 original Christmas songs by the trio, ranging in style from the humorous "I'm Gettin' Everything for Christmas" to the heartwarming "My Christmas Dream."
Knowles will be featured in the production as Ebenezer Scrooge. Landrum is directing. Ledford is musical director. Lindsay Fussell is the choreographer.