’Tis the season when Venice Theatre development director Eric Watters prepares for the role he’s been playing since 2002, that of miserly old Ebenezer Scrooge in VT’s production of A Christmas Carol. Watters has been a fixture on south Sarasota’s cultural scene since he moved to Nokomis in 1983. “Seeing A Christmas Carol at Venice Theatre has become a tradition for many, many people,” he says. “I was in the grocery store last week and a woman called out, ‘Scrooge, you shop at Publix!’” —ILENE DENTON.
“I’m a former college administrator and, after I moved to Florida, a banker and then stockbroker. When I retired, I started producing variety shows. Lots of people were involved, and there were a thousand costume changes and a million songs. My first big show was on the stage of this theater in 1993 for the benefit of the Venice Symphony, where I had been president of the board from 1990 to 1994. I did those shows for the symphony for 19 years.”
“This version of A Christmas Carol was commissioned by Venice Theatre and written by two Sarasotans, Scott Keys and the late E. Suzan Ott. It’s a musical version different from any other you have seen, with a cast of 50, mostly young people. Last year’s was completely sold out so we’re adding a performance this year.”
“This will be my 15th year playing Scrooge. When I come onstage everyone cheers. It’s a good feeling. I perform with a different Tiny Tim most years. The problem with those Tiny Tims is they grow and get too heavy for Mr. Scrooge to lift on his shoulders anymore.”
“My father was a theater professor, but apart from high school and college productions I didn’t do theater work. It wasn’t until I joined the church choir when I moved here that I discovered I could sing.”
“Venice Theatre serves the entire community in a very high-quality fashion. Anyone can be a volunteer, [and] we provide an education program that serves hundreds of young people every year and quite a number of adults as well. For a town this size to have the second-largest community theater in the United States of America is extraordinary.”
A Christmas Carol runs Dec. 16-21 at Venice Theatre. Show times and ticket information are at venicestage.com.