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In observance of Charles Dickens’ 200th birthday, historic Southport will be transformed into an authentic Victorian-style English village this Friday and Saturday, Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.
The town, in conjunction with the Brunswick Arts Council, is sponsoring a bicentennial Charles Dickens Christmas Festival from 1-9 p.m. both days, rain or shine.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 7-12. Children ages 6 and younger are admitted free. Prices include the two-day event for all venues and entertainment.
In the spirit of Dickens’ philanthropy, there will be collection sites for donations to Brunswick Family Assistance (canned and dry goods), Brunswick County Homeless Coalition (warm clothing and toiletries) and Brunswick County Literacy Council (books).
Many surprises will occur during this first-ever Charles Dickens Christmas Festival in Southport, including:
•Stroll on the streets in a historic recreation of a Dickens Village where singers, actors, dancers, town criers, puppeteers, merchants, storytellers and restaurateurs will interest all ages with Dickensian-era performances and culinary treats. This will include impersonations of a variety of Dickens’ most colorful characters. Lively British “Christmas pantos” (pantomimes) will entertain. Visitors can also enjoy holiday boutique shopping and high tea at the Ruark Inn or Lois Jane’s B&B.
•Professional guest artist Gina Gambony will perform puppet shows, including the famous British Punch and Judy characters (appropriate for all age levels).
•Victorian Santa and his elves will entertain and pose for photos with children.
•A closing candlelight ceremony and carols around the lighted gazebo is scheduled for Friday and Saturday evenings.
•Merchants and museums will extend hours for the festival.
•There will be Christmas tree, wreath, costume and gingerbread house contests.
•Watch woodturner demonstrations.
•Public school ROTC students and many other community groups will participate.
Inside Southport’s historic venues, the following events are scheduled:
•An Olde English nativity play at St. Philip’s Episcopal Church.
•Charles Dickens as a young actor and director will present a Victorian variety show at the historic Amuzu Theatre.
•Guest artist David Zum Brennan will perform “A Night Before Christmas Carol,” a depiction of Dickens’ life, both days. On Friday, he will perform “Food and Froth,” a comedy about Dickens’ favorite foods.
•Guest artist Tony Palermo from Los Angeles, Calif., will perform four interactive “Sparx Sound Effects Spectacular’’ shows Saturday.
•Guest speaker Mark Sorensen, associate professor of costume design in the University of North Carolina Wilmington theater program, will share his expertise on Victorian fashions, including a display of period costumes.
•Selection of songs from “Oliver” will be performed by cast members of Brunswick Little Theatre.
•The Madrigal Singers, Mixed Doubles Barbershop Quartet, Blackjack Quartet, Oakwood Waits Carolers and other choral groups, instrumental ensembles and soloists will give short performances.
•Display of Victorian collectibles.
•Display of artwork from public school students’ art contest.
•Performances by public school drama and music students.
•Professional storytellers share literary excerpts evoking images of Victorian Christmas’ past.