hatlogo Great Stories Alive !
      "Performance with Passion & Purpose"

PO Box 11045 - Portland, OR 97211 / (503) 335-3876 - GreatStoriesAlive.com


FOR RELEASE ON:  Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Media Contacts:

Al LePage, Performer, Great Stories Alive! / 503-335-3876 / al.lepage@spiretech.com
Guy Leblanc, Director of Museum Services, Wayside Inn / 978-443-1776 ext. 109 / history@wayside.org

Joanne Barry, Director, A Place to Turn / 508-655-8868 / info@aplacetoturn-natick.org
Annie Murphy, Director, Framingham History Center / 508-626-9091 ext. 2 / director@framinghamhistory.org
Julie Heagney, Director, Literacy Unlimited / 508-532-5574 / 508-740-1609 (cell) / fplmail4@minlib.net

A very Victorian "Christmas Carol" returns
to New England with"new" twists 1869-style!

Victorian gentleman "Thomas Hutchinson, Englishman and Amateur Thespian" is back once again
not only to present Dickens' timeless classic, but also talk history and get the audience into the act!
LePage as "Scrooge" addressing Bob Cratchit
"Englishman Thomas Hutchinson" portrayed by Al LePage as "Scrooge" himself!               Image by Melissa Ostrow/www.melophoto.net

Dickens' "Christmas Carol" will be presented in the style of the Victorian era as dramatic reading performances on Thursday, December 10th in Framingham and Saturday, December 12th in Sudbury.  Al LePage will again perform as "Englishman Thomas Hutchinson, Amateur Thespian" complete with English accent, clothing of the period and other accoutrements.  The full performance of Dickens' historic public reading version as Dickens himself did it, happens on Saturday, December 12th at 6PM at the Wayside Inn's Martha-Mary Chapel just off Route 20 in Sudbury.  A very special performance with a shortened version of the original reading script will also include children from McCarthy Elementary School singing and dancing and begins at 7 PM on December 10th at the historic Village Hall, 2 Oak Street in Framingham.  Before each performance LePage engages the audience in a discussion of relevant history and people, among other things, as if it were "New England 1869."  Doors open thirty minutes before each performance, both shows are best appreciated by adults and mature children 10 years of age and up, and admission is $10 per person.  All ticket sales for the Thursday night Framingham performance will equally benefit both the Framingham History Center and Literacy Unlimited, those for the Saturday night Martha-Mary Chapel performance in Sudbury will equally benefit the Longfellow's Wayside Inn and A Place to Turn, all non-profit organizations.  Seating is limited for both performances, and since last year's Sudbury performance was sold out before the performance, tickets could possibly be available at the door, but it's highly recommended you reserve ahead by calling the Wayside Inn at 978/443-1776 for the Saturday evening performance or call the Framingham History Center at 508-872-0484 for the Thursday evening performance at the Village Hall, which is not handicapped accessible.

"History and Christmas," begins Al LePage, performing artist of Great Stories Alive, "now, there's two great stories!  First a story in fact that was being told when Longfellow himself was around.  A simple but great story, too, from the very pen of Charles Dickens.  But,  there's also the story written by those who have celebrated Christmas since New England separated from Olde England in 1776.  So, get ready for a double feature when I not only bring 'A Christmas Carol' to life, but invite you back home to the year 1869."

Introducing the CarolLePage's mission of both "playing to -- and with -- audience members to bring history alive" will quickly become evident when you first encounter him before the performance.  His love of improvisation combined with a highly interactive approach means that he may not only engage you in conversation, but also actually encourage you to join him on stage at some point!  In fact, watch out!  Since he's playful, likes to experiment and believes in seizing the moment, even he doesn't always know what's going to happen.  This not only makes each performance unique, but also keeps it fresh and exciting.  As Shakespeare wrote, ". . . one man in his time plays many parts . . ." and LePage's creative use of voice should shine through as he creates all the characters, both male and female.  It all begins by taking you back to New England in the year 1869, introducing "himself" in character as "Englishman Thomas Hutchinson, Amateur Thespian."

"Bringing history to life by portraying someone from the past," begins LePage, "is a very powerful way to engage people, and connect them with the history of where they live or visit.  Great stories can make people more aware of the reality around them, connecting them with others and within themselves for greater understanding and compassion. Live drama can bring these great stories to life in a way that provides both entertainment and insight.  And sure, I'm performing but it's really more than that for me.  I'm really preaching, it's like being able to give one of the best sermons I've ever heard in my life, over and over again!  I'm on fire!  It feels so meaningful.  Hence it truly is a performance with passion and purpose.  One very important purpose includes increasing people's awareness of hunger and to benefit A Place to Turn, an emergency food pantry in Natick serving area residents, plus benefit the Wayside Inn Foundation in its efforts as a non-profit to preserve history itself."

"I cut and pasted these pages from Dickens very first edition," says "Hutchinson"
portrayed by Al LePage.  "It was just an old beat up worn-out copy and thought
it would beautify my folder for the dramatic reading script."   LePage loves to
play with the audience!                            Image by Melissa Ostrow/www.melophoto.net

LePage "Plays Ball" with the audience before the reading"A Place To Turn has never been busier," notes its director, Joanne Barry, "and the number of families served in 2009 is up by fifteen percent.  Hunger persists as a problem in MetroWest, and with rising unemployment and the costs of housing, plus increasing prices for food and medicine, more people than ever are relying on emergency food pantries.  The high cost of living in this area also places a tremendous burden on them.  We offer critical hunger relief in an area where one child in five faces hunger.  Yes, with the help of a caring community, we are positively affecting the lives of the nearly 7,000 people we served just this last year."

"Literacy is vital to survival and quality of life," notes Julie Heagney, director of Literacy Unlimited in Framingham, "and our volunteers tutor adults who want to learn English, about citizenship and prepare to get their GED."

"Given the themes of personal transformation and charity in Dickens 'A Christmas Carol,'" notes LePage, "it makes a lot of sense to donate my time and talents to benefit local area nonprofits and the work they do through dramatic readings of this particular story.  On a very personal note I became especially sensitive to the plight of those who are hungry, when as a young man through no fault of my own, myself and other teachers all lost their jobs mid-year when the private school in Boston we taught at suddenly closed.  And, given my sparse resources at the time, when faced with the choice of either paying my bills or eating, well, let's just say I got pretty hungry at times.  Also, since I grew up in Framingham, I had many occassions both from my childhood and as a young man, to visit and enjoy the Wayside Inn over the years, and supporting its preservation in this way is a great way to give back.  Finally, all involved, from volunteers to my hosts at the Wayside Inn and the Framingham History Center, from my performances to those who buy the tickets, we all become the story of "A Christmas Carol."  In essence, everyone's donation, whether of time or talent, money or food, brings the message of generosity and hope alive and, to update an old phrase, with good will towards men, women and children, too."

"Baseball will never catch on in America as Cricket has in England,"
 says "Thomas Hutchinson" (Al LePage) engaging the audience in
playful conversation before the actual reading begins.  LePage loves
to improvise, so be prepared!  Image by Melissa Ostrow/www.melophoto.net

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” notes LePage. “So come and play along with me! Yes, join me for lots of laughter, and hopefully some tears, during my dramatic reading solo of Charles Dickens classic 'A Christmas Carol'."


A Place to Turn is a non-profit organization that has been serving the needs of the Metrowest community since the late 1970's. The emergency food pantry was established in the old parish house at the Hartford Street Presbyterian Church in Natick, created by a group of local residents troubled both by poverty and the lack of emergency assistance in the local area.  It has and continues to provide emergency groceries and clothing to individuals and families in need.  Funding and support come from many sources, including the United Way of Tri County, Project Bread, local businesses, schools, religious organizations and many individuals.  People can participate in a variety of ways and besides much appreciated financial support, the organization also values the time and talents of volunteers, plus donations of non-perishable food and other essential items.  Serving over 7,000 people in 25 cities and towns in Metrowest in 2008, the majority of clients are from Framingham, Marlboro, Natick, and Ashland.  For further information, visit their webiste at www.aplacetoturn-natick.org or phone (508) 655-8868.

Longfellow's Wayside Inn is a Massachusetts Historic Landmark and the oldest Inn in the United States, continuing to provide food and lodging along-side the old Boston Post Road since 1716. As a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation, the Wayside Inn is dedicated to the preservation of its 125-acre historic campus and outbuildings, which include the old Howe Tavern, the Martha Mary Chapel, the Redstone School, and the world famous water-powered Wayside Inn Grist Mill. Countless individuals, school groups and civic organizations take advantage of the property's educational programs each year, which focus on the site's colonial past as well as its more recent history as the country's first living history museum while under the ownership of industrialist Henry Ford from 1923 to 1945. The site is funded with revenue generated from its restaurant and overnight guest rooms, fundraising initiatives, corporate and public donations, and through historic preservation grants. The Wayside Inn Historic Site is on the National Register of Historic Places.  For further information, visit www.wayside.org or phone 978-443-1776.

Framingham History Center is a nonprofit organization collecting, preserving and sharing Framingham's cultural heritage including its oral and written history, 10,000 artifacts, and preserving three superb historic nineteenth century buildings, the Old Academy, an unusual Greek Revival temple, the Village Hall, at the epicenter of the Centre Common, and the Edgell Memorial Library, a grand Victorian Gothic structure.  The Center offers public events, lectures, exhibitions, celebrations, and tours meant to inspire and educate the public, provides community gatherings, and shares historical research resources with all.  For further information, visit www.framinghamhistory.org or phone (508) 626-9091.

Literacy Unlimited, a nonprofit organization established in 1986 and housed in the Framingham Public Library, is a group of volunteers that tutors adults in English as a second language, basic literacy, citizenship and GED preparation.  Its mission is to provide a solid, comprehensive program for training and supporting volunteers to teach basic reading, writing and/or math skills to adult learners, including those for whom English is a foreign language.  Literacy Unlimited is a member of Literacy Volunteers of Massachusetts and ProLiteracy America.  For further information visit them at www.framinghamlibrary.org under "Services" or phone (508) 532-5574.


Melissa Ostrow/www.melophoto.net

"Englishman Thomas Hutchinson, Amateur Thespian" as portrayed by Al LePage is sure to bring lots of  laughter,
 and hopefully some tears, during his upcoming dramatic readings of Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol."