Al LePage’s more than 10-year reign of performing one-man shows of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” for charity has come to an end.
But LePage says that won’t stop the Christmas spirit from living on. He’s passing the reins to six actors from The Sudbury Savoyards, a local theatre company, who will continue LePage’s tradition of performing the holiday classic at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn in Sudbury and Omni Parker House in Boston.
The Savoyards will perform at the Wayside Inn on Friday, Dec. 6, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 7, at 2 p.m., with a final show at the Parker House on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m.
LePage, director of the National Coast Trail Association, pursued his passion for history and the environment as a Living History Reenactor volunteer with the National Park Service in Oregon and Washington. He got his feet wet and had a debut performance of “A Christmas Carol” at a historic mansion in Astoria, Ore., in 2006. Over the years, he continued to perform.
“I eventually decided to do it in Massachusetts, the place I grew up,” said LePage, who was raised in Framingham.
Flying between Oregon and Massachusetts, LePage continued to perform the story for more than 10 years at the Wayside Inn and eventually the historic Parker House. All proceeds from ticket sales went to the Historic Site Preservation Fund of the Wayside Inn as well as local food pantries, he said.
LePage says the story’s message especially resonates because “it is about generosity and personal transformation.”
LePage emphasized how his performances were more than just acting — they held historical and personal significance too. His final performance last December commemorated the 175th anniversary of when Dickens wrote and published the Christmas classic in 1843.
During his last performance he also made sure to bring his father’s sweater with him on stage, leaving it on the chair beside him as he performed.
“My father was the only guy that upstaged me. During my performances, he would stand up and say, ‘that’s my son up there,’” LePage recalled with a laugh. “The audience absolutely loved it, they could tell I was blushing.”
His father passed away five years ago, but LePage still keeps his memory close.
“I referenced the sweater and said, ‘this is in remembrance of my father, so that he can be here with me for the performance too,’” he recalled.
Unable to maintain the costs of flying to and from Massachusetts, LePage, 65, decided to retire from performing in order to direct his efforts back to what he’s always had a passion for — the world’s climate.
This came with a challenge. “I wanted the story of generosity to continue. I thought, how am I going to do this?”
He passed his legacy to the Sudbury Savoyards, which runs entirely on volunteers. This will be the group’s first time performing the show.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us as a Sudbury-based organization to do another noteworthy activity within Sudbury and build a relationship with the inn,” said Brendon Chetwynd, current chairman of Sudbury Savoyards.
To purchase $15 tickets for the show at Longfellow’s Wayside Inn, 72 Wayside Inn Rd., Sudbury, call 978-443-1776. For the show at the Omni Parker House, 60 School St., Boston, $15 tickets are available at BrownPaperTickets.com.