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A Christmas Carol

“Ghost of the Future,” Ebenezer Scrooge exclaims to his ghostly guide, “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. . . . But I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart.”

The New York State Theatre Institute is mounting their production of Charles Dickens’ beloved A Christmas Carol once again this holiday season—and this year the story resonates with the company’s uncertain future.

For more than 30 years NYSTI has presented professional theater and enriching educational programming, but the state-funded theater is facing a budget shortfall steep enough that this production risks being their last. Like the persevering and cheerful Cratchit family, however, NYSTI is determined to spin a beautiful, fresh and heartwarming holiday tale in spite of their struggles.

Like Scrooge, the company is hoping for a new beginning, and this is a chance to join them in revisiting the memories they shaped in decades past. For as the reformed-humbug himself attests, “I will live in the past, the present, and the future. The spirits of all three shall strive within me.”

A Christmas Carol opens at the New York State Theatre Institute (Schacht Fine Arts Center, 5 Division St., Russell Sage College, Troy) on Saturday (Dec. 4) at 8 PM and runs through Dec. 19. Tickets are $22, $18 for students and seniors and $12 for children 12 and younger. For more info, or to purchase tickets, call the NYSTI box office at 274-3256.


Sean Griffin: Cold Spring

“A curious theatrical collision of hijacked music and theater—an abduction of the audience into a pageant of disturbing 20th century indulgences.”

That’s how EMPAC describes Sean Griffin’s theatrical creation Cold Spring, which “plunders” a variety of sources, from the storehouse of the Schenectady Museum and Suits-Buche Planetarium to the Eugenics Archive at Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y., to tear into our often twisted takes on technology and humanity. Drawing on actors and musicians from all across this great land—“L.A., Chicago, Montreal, Minneapolis, N.Y.C. and the Capital Region”—Cold Spring is meant to challenge, disturb and, of course, entertain.

Cold Spring will be performed at EMPAC (EMPAC Theater, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy) on Friday and Saturday (Dec. 3-4) at 8 PM. Tickets are $15, $10 and $5. For more info, call 276-3921.


Crash Test Dummies, Lonesome Val

Brad Roberts, the Canadian who more or less is Crash Test Dummies, gave us one of the iconic sounds of the early 1990s: Namely, his freaky-deep baritone voice. That’s not to say that the acoustic (and semi-acoustic) sound of the band was chopped liver; they explored a range of genres from “funk and soul, folk and electronic music [to] . . . Christmas tunes.” It’s just that when you think of CTD, you think of that “majestic” croak on the hits “Mmm, Mmm, Mmm, Mmm,” and “Superman.”

Well, Roberts and company are back with a new album, Oooh La La, and are coming to The Linda on Saturday.

We’re just as excited about the opening act, Lonesome Val. We’re not going to rehash Val Haynes’ whole musical life story from the Units and Fear of Strangers to her solo career; we’ll just say she’s one of our all-time favorite performers and leave it at that.

Crash Test Dummies, and Lonesome Val, will perform Saturday (Dec. 4) at 8 PM at The Linda, WAMC’s Performing Arts Studio (339 Central Ave., Albany). Tickets are $20. For more info, call 465-5233 ext. 4.

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