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ECMS Drama Club production bigger, better
Nicholas Case
Ebenezer Scrooge, portrayed by Nicholas Case, expresses fear at the sight of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come during Friday’s performance. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff

  SPRINGFIELD — “A Christmas Carol” has become a holiday tradition at Effingham County Middle School.

The school’s Drama Club performed a revised version of the classic play for the third straight year Friday and Saturday. The shows in the gymnasium featured a cast and crew of 55 students.

“It’s a lot tighter and a better story than our first year,” teacher and co-producer Bilinda Sikes said. “We took a few liberties with the story like ‘Bob Cratchit” became ‘Bess Cratchit.’  We killed off her husband because we have more girls than guys in our shows.”

The club’s male-to-female ratio isn’t the primary reason for the script alterations, however. A tight budget prevented it from paying performance rights to the Charles Dickens version of “A Christmas Carol” so she wrote her own story and has tweaked it each year since.

Despite operating on a shoestring budget, the play featured an elaborate set  and costumes. The club took a financial hit when last year’s spring show was nixed because of COVID-19.

The weekend’s well-attended performances gave the club a financial boost, however. 

“This show is really going to help us,” Sikes said. “We are going to be able to put on a really good spring show (in 2021).”

After Friday’s performance, Sikes lauded her actors, crew members and others who aided their cause, including co-producers Jana Bolton and Stephanie Barnes.

“That doesn’t happen without a lot of support from the district and administrative level in our school,” Sikes said. “We’ve even had teachers who have donated furniture from their house for sets in the past. We have been so blessed to have so many people who have seen these kids’ talent and want to be a part of it in whatever way they can.

“The biggest blessing is to watch the kids discover something about themselves when they are on the stage.”

The Drama Club is the brainchild of former Principal Tim Hood.

“I got so excited because I had been wanting to do that for years,” Sikes said. “I said, ‘I think we should do it and I will take care of it.”