The Ahwatukee Children's Theatre (ACT) production of "A Christmas Carol" is kicking off its ninth year this weekend.

The annual production has become a holiday tradition for some local families, and the director of the production and founder of ACT, Michele Rubino, said each year more than 50 percent of the cast returns from the previous year; and for a lot of them, they come back just for the experience of this show.

"Our first practice of the year is kind of like a family reunion," Rubino said. "We have a couple kids who have played almost every role. It's fun to see the little ones look up to the older kids and know that if they stick around, they could get to their level."

The community comes out in force for the show, she said, with a few of the eight shows this year already sold out. The cast is 60 performers strong and that accounts for a lot of family members who need seats.

"I wouldn't recommend someone waiting until the last day for tickets," Rubino said. "It's a large cast and a lot of family, but it's also a big draw to the community."

Their tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his visits from supernatural powers stays fairly true to the original story. Rubino said they ease up on some of the more intense moments that take place.

"The original story tends to be kind of scary," she said. "There's a lot of comic relief (in ours) so that it is not frightening for younger children."

The show opens on Saturday at 2 p.m. with another production at 7 p.m.; and continues on Sunday at 2 p.m. More shows are scheduled for Dec. 16 at 7 p.m., Dec. 17 at 2 and 7 p.m., and Dec. 18 at 2 and 5 p.m.

For more information, contact ACT, 5051 E. Elliot Road, at (480) 705-9319, or visit www.AZACT.org.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or troemhild@ahwatukee.com

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