A beloved Christmas classic returns to the WILLow LeaVes stage with a little southern charm when the Actors’ Studio of Hope and WILLow LeaVes of Hope present “EB Scrooge: A Southern Fried Carol.”

Producer Pete Law says presenting this take on a familiar classic has offered its own set of challenges.

“One is trying to hit the comedic points because ‘A Christmas Carol’ is not one to be funny,” Law says. “We’ve changed the setting to Bartholomew County and reference sites in the area. For instance, Jacob Marley – Scrooge’s former partner whose ghost comes to him in chains – comes to Scrooge because he drowned in the Driftwood River.”

Law says WILLow LeaVes of Hope wanted to offer a Christmas-oriented show. Having already presented “It’s a Wonderful Life” and a one-man version of “A Christmas Carol,” Law says he was on the lookout for something different. His parameters were simple: something Christmas-y and funny.

When he stumbled across the play after a brief internet search, the search was over.

“I thought the play looked interesting,” Law says. “I looked over the sample script and thought, ‘This could work!”

The play offers great flexibility when it comes to cast, Law says, calling for anywhere from 15 to 50 people. Law’s cast for this performance will be right at about one dozen, he says, with many of the cast doubling, and sometimes tripling, up on characters they will portray.

The estimated two-hour long show, despite its challenges, has been a great experience so far, Law says. and the greatest part is seeing the story come to life.

“One of the best things is seeing your work and ideas play out,” Law says. “And seeing the other actors take your direction and hearing the reaction from the audience.”

Diana Manners is making a return to the stage after nearly four decades as a charity worker who asks the grumbly Ebenezer Scrooge for monetary help.

Since the play is peppered with references to Bartholomew County it only makes sense that Manner’s character, a charity worker, is a Cheerfund worker.

Despite the fun, Manners says her part is not without its challenges.

“We have been laughing a lot and the challenge is going to be not laughing when we are putting on the show,” Manners says. “There are a lot of witty people involved. I am enjoying being a part of a group putting on a play because it has been so long since I’ve done that.”

With the each cast member likely playing multiple parts, Manners says it has been interesting watching their transformations no matter how subtle, during rehearsal.

“People are playing multiple parts so the production of distinguishing when someone is one role and when another was very interesting to me,” Manners says. “Something so simple as taking off a cloak or having glasses and then not. That was different.”

Naomi Fleetwood-Pyle, who narrates the play, says the staff of WILLow LeaVes of Hope and everyone involved with the production are following all CDC recommended COVID precautions, including social distancing and requiring masks.

“The tables are set far apart and they are only seating families together,” she says. “Everything is very COVID responsible.”

As Law looks ahead to opening night, he is hopeful that the play will spread some much needed Christmas cheer.

“Hopefully, everyone can have a moment of normalcy and enjoy a night out that is socially distanced and safe,” Law says.