Past and Present of Greendale's 'A Dickens of a Christmas'

Learn about the history and people behind the Village Center's annual performance of 'A Dickens of a Christmas'.

What's that sound? Jacob Marley's chains, dragging on the ground? A "Bah Humbug?" floating through the air?

Could be, as the annual A Dickens of a Christmas production is gearing up for its Friday night performances. Since 1999, A Dickens of a Christmas has brought hundreds of people from in and outside Greendale for the live 10-minute performance of the holiday classic, combined with the small-town charm of the Village Center at Christmas.

The show is usually the first weekend of December in the Village Center in the Ferch’s Malt Shoppe and Grille's courtyard. However, this year it’s being held on Nov. 30.

While Friday's weather is supposed to be warm—a high of 41 and chance of rain early—no matter the weather, the show must go on. And it has.

One year there was a huge snowstorm. Al Hafemeister—perhaps taking on some of the stinginess of Scrooge, the character he plays, said it dropped 8 inches on the Village Center. But narrator Betty Ferchoff said the storm brought 12 inches of snow.  

Hafemeister has played Scrooge since the beginning, but he is far from grumpy.

Christmas Carol is my favorite Christmas story,” Hafemeister said. “I watch six or seven versions every year. When Betty said we were going to do this I told her I'd love to be part of it.”

Hafemeister was a forensics coach at Greendale Middle School for 25 years. So, public speaking was a piece of cake for him.

The first year Betty Ferchoff’s husband Dale played Marley. He used house paint to turn his face gray. That was his first and only time as Marley.

The role was later taken over by Dave Bruno who plays many roles in life. 

Hafemeister and Bruno admit they cannot look each other in the eyes for fear of bursting into laughter during the middle of a performance.

The performance is usually attended by a few hundred people. Bruno has even met someone who comes from Illinois to watch the performance.

“You got two kinds of people who come,” Bruno said. “You got the Greendale people who come and support the activities in Greendale. Then you got the people who come every two or three years.  They like the activities they see down here.”

"When you start something like this and you get members of the community to come and support you it says a lot about the friendliness of the community," said Hafemeister. "People will come back every year to show their support."

Festivities start at 4 p.m. and run till 9 p.m. Three performances will be held at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Throughout the day the Village Center will have carolers, Santa, live music, holiday shopping, carriage rides and more. Make sure to take a stroll down the Village Center's own version of Winter Wonderland. 

List of Characters:

Narrator: Betty Ferchoff
Scrooge played by Al Hafemeister
Marley played by Dave Bruno
Tiny Tim played by Theo Anagnostopoulos
Ghost of Christmas Past played by Hannah Romens
Ghost of Christmas Present played by Bill Kewan
Banker played by Larry Hollis
Ghost of Christmas Future played by Brian Sienko

Bryanna Livingston November 30, 2012 at 06:06 PM
What drew me into reading this article was the great photo that was taken. It made me want to read more to learn what it was about. great article


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