While the pandemic has changed the way the holidays look this year, one beloved Berks County institution is working hard to spread as much joy and Christmas cheer as is safely possible.

The Yocum Institute for Arts Education, located in West Lawn, is presenting their version of the Charles Dickens holiday classic, ​A Christmas Carol,​ this weekend. While the original plan was for the show to run through Sunday, December 13, the new state restrictions as outlined by Governor Wolf yesterday have changed the schedule.

Tonight’s performance at 7:30 PM will be the final in-person performance per state guidelines, and will also be livestreamed. The livestream will be available Saturday, December 12 at 7:30 PM, and Sunday, December 13, at 2 PM.

Artistic Director Beverly Houck has worked hard to ensure that Yocum’s production of ​a Christmas Carol​ is a safe and beautiful experience for everyone involved. ​

“[Covid] is a real thing,” s​he shared. “​We are taking mitigations on hyper-drive. The cast is performing in masks, everyone sanitizes their hands between each scene, and we restricted the audience to no more than 20 people in our 2,600 square foot auditorium.” ​Houck also shared that the entire auditorium is being sanitized during intermission as well.

The cast includes actors of all ages, from the littlest Cratchit child to veteran actor Terri Mastrobuono, who portrays the original Christmas curmudgeon, Ebenezer Scrooge. To ensure the safety of all actors, despite the fact that the play has a cast of 27, no more than 9 actors are on stage at any given time.

“​When capacity limits changed from 20% to 10%, we knew that there was no way we were going to break even with this performance, much less ​make​ money,” ​said Houck.

​“With the support of Yocum’s Executive Director Susan Rohn and Board President Susan Denaro, we made a community-minded decision to move forward [with the performance], because we need some things to count on and to bring joy…to remind us that hope is still here, and not everything is cancelled.”

This article is also available in: Español (Spanish)