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WEST VALLEY CITY -- Hale Centre Theatre is celebrating an important anniversary with its annual production of "A Christmas Carol." But the cast and crew are experiencing a more poignant memory as they welcome back members of a family who suffered a tragic loss a few years ago.
Richard Wilkins as Ebenezer Scrooge: it's now a 25-year tradition at Hale Centre Theatre.
Wilkins has traveled halfway around the world, from Qatar where he directs an institute on family development and support. Focusing on what's important in life, the theme of this play, he says, is universal.
"Love that story ... This comes from Hindus, Muslims and Christians we know over in the Middle East," Wilkins says. "A message of love and connection; how we're all interdependent."
Also in the cast: members of a family who have brought both memories and hope to the production.
Three years ago, the Ceran family members were on their way home from a cast party at Hale Centre Theatre. The mother, Cheryl, 15-year-old Ian and 7-year-old Julinna were killed when a drunk driver broadsided their car.
Gary, Clarissa and Caleb have returned, playing the Cratchits and bringing with them memories and peace.
"It forces me to look backwards with a very tender heart, and yet, at the same time, it encourages me to look forward full of home," says Gary Ceran, who plays "Bob Cratchit."
"Love turns the story into a story of salvation and a story of hope and of new beginnings," he adds. "And so, in that way it's very reminiscent of my own life."
This year in this cast, there are feelings of support and love and hope for what the season truly means.
Performances of "A Christmas Carol" at Hale Centre Theatre in West Valley City run through Dec. 23. CLICK HERE if you would like more information or to purchase tickets.