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Lentz to Offer Final ‘A Christmas Carol’ Performances

by on November 27, 2017 5:00 AM

For 40 years, Dr. Tony Lentz has worked to embody the attributes of the many characters in Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” during his one-man performances of the story presented in churches, libraries, coffee shops and theaters from North Carolina to Maine to Colorado.

The 40th series of performances in State College will be his last.

Lentz will appear at The State Theatre Attic at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 28, and Monday, Dec. 18. He will hang up Scrooge’s top hat after a final presentation at Schlow Centre Region Library at 5 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21. The shows are benefits for the theater and library, respectively, with tickets available for $5 at the State and donations to Schlow suggested at the door.

“I consider myself part of a long line of performers of the story, beginning with professor Frederick Kich of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill around 100 years ago,” Lentz said. “When he retired other professors continued the tradition, and I heard my late friend and teacher, professor Early R. Wynn, present it in a wainscoted lounge in the old student union. There were windows overlooking the stark winter treescape of the Morehead rose garden, comfortable chair and couches and fireplaces at either end of the room.”

Lentz remembers being visited by ghosts, visions of snowy streets and urchins, and a story of hope in a difficult and sometimes bitter life.

“It was just the medicine for a struggling freshman on his own to face the challenges of college,” he said.

When he began his career teaching public speaking and oral interpretation in 1978, Lentz decided to recreate the story in Wynn’s honor at Wingate University in North Carolina. Coming to Penn State in 1980, he found a record of “Christmas Carol” readings going back to the year of his birth in 1947, and the Daily Collegian called his first reading, “A Penn State Christmas Carol.”

“I try to convey the heart-warming message of the story so audiences have joy and hope in the Christmas season,” he said. “We all need to remember that life can be joyful, whatever our situation, if we choose kindness and generosity.”

On Wednesday, Dec. 20, he will turn 70 before bellowing “Bah! Humbug!” as he ends the 40th and last season at Schlow.

“I will dedicate the last season to Professor Wynn for his contribution to the students of the 1960s,” Lentz said, “and to the wonderful audiences I have found over the years. God bless us.”

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