Valley Shakespeare Festival presented its third annual free script- in- hand dramatic staged reading of Charles Dickens\u2019 immortal classic \u201cA Christmas Carol\u201d this past weekend at Shelton\u2019s Plumb Memorial Library. The two showings were presented to capacity audiences both days, with over one hundred happy Valley Shakespeare Festival\u2019s adaptation of the Victorian-era tale of Ebenezer Scrooge and his miraculous journey to redemption one Christmas Eve was presented in one hour, with minimal staging and costuming, and only a short introduction about the time period in which it was written and the social and economic conditions in England at the time which prompted Dickens to pen the story. The cast consisted of only seven actors, some playing multiple roles; the stage was the Plumb Memorial Library\u2019s beautiful Romanesque Reading Room, its lovely stained glass windows providing the backdrop for the actors and their four music stands. Jeremy Funke, a cherished performer with Valley Shakespeare Festival and New Haven\u2019s Elm \u00a0Shakespeare Company, reprised his role as Scrooge, depicting the character\u2019s \u00a0transformation as elegantly as any performer ever has. \u00a0Each year he imbues his performance with more passion and subtlety than the previous year, giving audiences a more and more profound understanding of the old Tom Simonetti, the company\u2019s Executive and Artistic Director, took on three separate roles, but none more memorable than his Bob Cratchit. \u00a0When he finished his heartbreaking rendition of \u201cSilent Night\u201d after telling his family about his visit to Tiny Tim\u2019s grave, the atmosphere in the room was as silent solemn as the song itself. Gary Harger, former music director of St. Lawrence Church, also tackled three separate roles, expertly presenting distinct personalities in each. \u00a0His Mr. Fezziwig was jolly and gregarious and his Old Joe was both sleazy and likeable at the same time. \u00a0But his Ghost of Christmas Present was by far his most affecting. \u00a0Harger\u2019s booming trained voice commanded both attention and respect as he led Scrooge on his journey through the streets of London, opening his eyes and mind to what was always there, but had gone previously unnoticed by the old man. \u00a0Harger played the scene in which the Ghost reveals the two sickly urchins beneath his cloak with such subtlety and sobriety that one couldn\u2019t help but share Scrooge\u2019s shame. The remaining four cast members, Patrick Robert Kelly, Jessica Breda, Tara Reuter and Gwendolyn Niles all also played multiple roles. Mr. Kelly\u2019s deep baritone voice was vintage Jacob Marley, while Ms. Breda\u2019s portrayal of the long-suffering, yet ever selfless and sympathetic Mrs. Cratchit was beautiful to behold. Tara Reuter, playing no fewer than five parts, shone most brightly as Scrooge\u2019s sister, Fan, and the cockney Charwoman who appropriated Scrooge\u2019s paltry belongings after his death to pawn. Gwendolyn Niles, the cast\u2019s lone thirteen-year old \u201cchild\u201d actress, bravely took on the roles of Tiny Tim and the Ghost of Christmas Past with the maturity and professionalism of any veteran. \u00a0This was her fourth time performing with Valley Shakespeare Festival, having also been cast in the company\u2019s summer productions of Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night\u2019s Dream, as well as in last year\u2019s A Christmas Carol. After each performance, audience members were invited to meet and mingle with the cast and crew while enjoying warm mulled cider and homemade cookies. Valley Shakespeare Festival also took this opportunity to introduce its 2016 season. \u00a0Next up, on March 10 and 11, will be the latest entry in its \u201cShakespeare in the Bar\u201d series, Moliere\u2019s saucy comedy, Tartuffe. \u00a0As in the past, the script-in-hand staged reading will take place at Porky\u2019s Caf\u00e9 in Shelton. The company\u2019s summer event for 2016 will be Shakespeare\u2019s raucous battle of the sexes comedy, The Taming of the Shrew. \u00a0It will be presented with full costuming and staging outdoors on July 14-17 in Shelton\u2019s Riverwalk-Veterans Memorial Park. Shakespeare\u2019s Pericles, Prince of Tyre, a tale of riddles, revenge and perilous adventure, will be the company\u2019s touring production for 2016. Organizations wishing to bring VSF\u2019s world to theirs, can now do so by engaging them through this Touring Program. Valley Shakespeare Festival is a non-profit theater company, dedicated to serving the communities of the lower Naugatuck Valley. \u00a0Anyone wishing to know more about them can access their website at www.vsfestival.org, find them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Instagram or call 203-513-9446.