Family Time: Become 'part of Dickens' England'

Get into the spirit at Words Players Theatre's "A Christmas Carol." Lastperformedtwo years ago at the Mayowood Stone Barn, this year's production moves to thesmaller setting of the Words Players Theatre, 14 Fourth St. S.W., Rochester.

"Just like with the Stone Barn show, we set the stage right from the beginning.Theater-goers are greeted by street urchins on their walk into thetheater. There'sa Dickens market area with traditional English Christmas foods for sale. Theaudience really becomes part of Dickens' England," said Kathy Kuhlmann,Words PlayersTheatre's executive director. "I think the new location might even makefor a bettershow. It's a more intimate setting than the barn — and it'll be warmer."

The show supports a cast of 77, ranging in age from 6 to 70-something.Auditionswere held in September, with practice taking place daily for one or moreof thecharacters.

"Everyone's been really busy working on accents," said Kuhlmann, notingthat the showalso pulls in a supporting cast from the community. "We've also gotseveral localmusicians involved in the production who will be performing before theshow. Localartists who will be displaying their work in the Dickens market area. Andlocalcelebrities who will be playing the role of Lord Mayor."

The show runs two hours with an intermission. Tickets are $15 or $20 foradults and$9 or $15 for students and are available online or at the door.


Up next for Words Players

• Words Players performance troupe is offering Christmasgrams. Starting at$25, buya song, story or a serenade for a friend or colleague. Call or email toschedule aperformance.

• The Words Players Children's Troupe is holding auditions on Jan. 6 and7, 5 8 p.m., for children ages 6 to 10. The troupe will be performing BremenTownMusicians on Feb. 21 and 22 at the Words Players Theatre. Go online foradditionalaudition details.

• Words Players Jr. Troupe will be rocking School House Rock on Feb. 28and March 1,7 and 8 at the Words Players Theatre. Auditions for actors ages 10 to 14will beheld Jan. 6 and 7, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Audition information available online.

Lindy Lange is editor of . Up next: A Christmas tradition comes to stage with Rochester Dance Company's "The Nutcracker."

What: Words Players Theatre's "A Christmas Carol"

Where: Words Players Theatre, 14 Fourth St. S.W.


When: Dec. 6 (7 p.m.), Dec. 7 (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.), Dec. 13 (7 p.m.), Dec. 14 (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.), Dec. 20 (7 p.m.), Dec. 21 (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.)

Phone: 507-216-6431

On the web:


Light up the night

Flip the switch, it's time for Oxbow Park's Zoo Dazzle. With thousands of Christmas lights decorating the park's boardwalks, the zoo will be all lit up for the holidays. Held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, families will also enjoy visits with Santa, carolers, holiday crafts, games, a silent auction and snacks. Free, donations accepted. No registration necessary. Go online,, for more information.

Is there more? If your family can't make it on Friday or Saturday, stop by Sunday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Although there will be no visits with Santa, caroling or crafts, the zoo will still be shining brightly for the entire family to enjoy. Call 507-775-2451 for more information.



Look up

It's a bird ... it's a plane … no, that's Santa Claus flying through the sky and landing on the rooftop of Old City Hall. The big guy's arrival kicks off downtown's Here Comes Santa Claus event at 1 p.m. Saturday. Then it's on to Peace Plaza for an afternoon of family-friendly events including trolley rides, storytime with Mrs. Claus, pictures with Santa Claus, cookies and hot chocolate, entertainment on the Peace Plaza stage (Rochester Dance Company, Words Players Theatre, Pure Rock Studios) and the lighting of the City Tree with Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and Rochester's Mayor Brede. Activities on the plaza run from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and are free, photos with Santa available for purchase for $5. Click on for a complete schedule of events and activities.


Nature's artistic side

Take some nature, add some art and you've got the Quarry Hill Nature Art Show and Sale, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. The event offers families the opportunity to meet area artists (some may even be doing demonstrations), check out different mediums (clay, metal, wood), and see a sampling of southeast Minnesota art scene. Free admission. Door prizes. A portion of the proceeds benefit Quarry Hill Nature Center. Visit for more information.

What's next? Ring in the new year at Quarry Hill Nature Center's New Year's Eve Celebration, 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Dec. 31. Kids and adults will enjoy animal encounters, BINGO and trivia, nature crafts, candlelight skiing and snowshoeing (snow permitting), a bonfire with s'mores, geocaching and a special Quarry Hill countdown to ring in the new year. Cost is $48 per family ($40 for Quarry Hill members). Reservations required. Call 507-328-3950 to save your family's spot.



Yes, you can

Donate five, see one for free at the Cans Film Festival. Held at Wehrenberg Theatres from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, each family member can bring in five canned (or boxed/nonperishable) food items (tuna fish, chili, vegetables), and they'll receive a free pass to see the movie of their choice. (Movie must begin at or before 4 p.m.) Canned goods will be collected inside the movie theater and will benefit The Salvation Army food shelf, a satellite location for the Channel One Regional Food Bank. Go online, Facebook (RochesterSA),, or for more information.

Can I do more? Each family member who donates 10 more cans (that's a total of 15 cans per person) will receive an additional pass to come back and enjoy another movie at a later date. One additional movie pass per person. Call 507-288-3663, ext. 116, with questions.

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