Professor to Deliver Dramatic Reading of Holiday Classic
After stumbling upon a dramatic reading of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” as a freshman at UNC Chapel Hill in 1965, Dr. Tony Lentz knew that he wanted to instill the same awe in an audience as Professor Earl Wynn instilled in him that day.
On Thursday, December 9, 32 years after Dr. Lentz first delivered his own dramatic reading of the popular Christmas tale, he will once again perform what has become an annual tradition here at Penn State.
The reading will start at 7 p.m. in the community room at Schlow Centre Region Library. It will run approximately two hours and 15 minutes.
Lentz said the reading has become like a faculty recital for him, and although he retired this summer, he still feels like giving back to the community in hopes that others will have the same experience he had the first time he heard it.
“I was astonished,” Lentz said. “[Professor Wynn] was a character actor with sort of big, bushy eyebrows and I got carried into the story with my imagination.”
When Lentz decided to do his own version of the story, he wrote down everything he could remember from Wynn’s performance and added some of his own elements to it. His delivery focuses on Scrooge’s character development throughout the story, the realization of a connection between Scrooge’s own happiness and his caring for the well-being of others. Lentz believes the audience’s ability to identify with this is what makes the story so interesting.
“It’s an uplifting story,” he said. “It says that it is possible to be happy and to change your life around if you choose to do it.”
Lentz said the reading has drawn a broad demographic over the years, including some regulars who have come year after year to hear the reading. He has developed some fond memories with some of these people, he added.
For example, one family used to come to the reading year after year with their daughter, who was about 10 or 11 years old the first time they attended, Lentz said. Years later, a young woman brought her fiancé all the way from New York City for the event. The young woman, who introduced herself after the reading, turned out to be that same girl who used to come with her parents.
The performance will also appeal to any students in need of a break from studying for finals or those just looking to get into the spirit of Christmas. It is sure to inspire holiday cheer.
“Everyone always seems to enjoy the happy ending,” Lentz said. With the impending stress of finals, we can all use some holiday cheer.