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“When I come onstage, everyone cheers. It’s a good feeling.”

’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.

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