$n$ Production of 'The Gospel According to Scrooge' a labor of love for family

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Scrooge, played by Tim Bruner, is sobered by a visit to his own grave in "The Gospel According to Scrooge."

It's hard to keep a good Scrooge down.

After a hiatus, Tim and Keiloni Bruner are bringing their renowned holiday production - "The Gospel According to Scrooge" - to Cordiner Hall on the Whitman College campus once again.

The show, renowned for its professional sets and special effects, boasts a cast of 60 and a large backstage crew, Tim said.

"The initial cost of setting up the show is $12,000. We hire a special-effects company, we have to train a whole crew for the angels and Scrooge's flights. And we bring in back drops from a company in L.A."

The Bruners began their seasonal shows - occasionally other plays, such as "It's a Wonderful Life," take the stage - in Seattle more than two decades ago, bringing the idea to Walla Walla when the family arrived here 16 years ago.

For the past five years, however, the Bruners have been busy establishing a new church, New Beginnings Chapel. As well, Tim was a local station manager for California-based K-LOVE radio for seven years. Their schedule left few options for adding anything to a very full plate, the couple said.

At last there is time to return to their love of using the stage and drama as an outreach ministry. "Let's bring Scrooge back," Tim joked. "I've missed my alter ego."

The play is taken from the Charles Dickens classic, "A Christmas Carol," and is a message of hope and the possibility of change, he added. "The story itself has always been such a popular story. From the time I was a little boy, something about the story just intrigued me."

Bruner has heard from many here that the show has become a family tradition in the Walla Walla area. "People tell me they identify with the characters, that it is something to look forward to," he said.

He's added a new twist this year, which he won't give away, Bruner said. "In this one we've brought Belle back as the orphanage lady who has been praying for Scrooge. Something very special happens between Belle and Scrooge."

In the past, the show has been staged four or five times per season. This year the show will play just twice, on Wednesday and on Dec. 2, at 7 p.m.

Tickets are available at Christian Supply on Main Street, at Walla Walla University bookstore in College Place and at the Whitman College bookstore. Costs are $20 for reserved seating for all ages; $15 for adults and $12 for children under age 11 in general seating. For more information call 527-3385.

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