Heritage production of ‘A Christmas Carol’ showcases the healing power of the arts

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Heritage students participation in theatrical productions provides them with additional healing by nurturing relationships and helping them realize hidden talents. (Photo courtesy of Rick Nye.)
Heritage students’ participation in theatrical productions provides them with additional healing by nurturing relationships and helping them realize hidden talents. (Photo courtesy Rick Nye)

Charles Dickens’ story of the miserly Ebeneezer Scrooge has an extra dose of redemptive transformation in Heritage School’s upcoming production.

Heritage is home to youth who have been diagnosed with serious emotional disorders ranging from mood to substance abuse and everything in between. This year’s production of “A Christmas Carol” is helping these students learn, grow and transform through the healing power of the arts.

“Being in the play has really helped,” said Michael Barnes, one of the cast members. “It’s really opening up a lot of connections and friendships.”

Nathan Berrier, who plays Fred and the Ghost of Christmas Future in the show, agrees.

“It’s kind of relaxing. You get to have fun and live the life of someone else,” Berrier said.

The production team has noticed a big change, even from the time of auditions.

“When they first came their self-esteem was so low, and now they feel a part of something,” said Sheree Fitzgerald Hastings, the music director of the show. “They have overcome a lot of self-doubt. We had one student who wouldn’t look at me in auditions and is now performing and singing on stage.”

In Hertiage's production of 'A Christmas Carol' students find a safe haven on stage as they grow and develop. (Photo courtesy of Rick Nye.)
In Hertitage’s production of “A Christmas Carol” students find a safe haven on stage as they grow and develop. (Photo courtesy Rick Nye)

The show’s director, Buddy Youngreen, notes that there is a lot of talent in this cast. Youngreen, who has directed and produced over 100 shows, feels like this production is helping students channel some of their energy toward learning new skills.

“They learn to stick to something, and they learn about talents they didn’t think they had,” Youngreen said.

Being on stage is something that is new to most students, but over time they grow to love it.

“At first I was reluctant to be in this show,” said Blaze Harrison, who plays Young Scrooge in the production. “I didn’t really want to do this, but they helped me become more comfortable on stage, and now it’s starting to be more enjoyable.”

For other students the stage becomes a home away from home.

“I’ve always love being in plays. It makes me feel like I have somewhere to belong,” said Krystal Pappas, who is in her second production at Heritage.

The students come to the stage with unique problems and different talents, but regardless, they are able to find healing while they stand in the limelight.

“For the time they’re on the stage they’re not worrying about issues and diagnosis’. It’s a safe haven where students can work through their problems,” said Tami Harris, the Heritage school chaplain.

Heritage production of “A Christmas Carol” runs on December 13,14 and 16 at 7 p.m. in the Loveland Performing Arts Center at 5600 North Heritage School Dr. in Provo. Tickets range from $7 to $10 and can be purchased online at heritagertc.org/tickets.php.

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