The cast of “EBENEZER” first row, from left, Colin Watson, Jorja Brandt and Penelope Welker. Second row, James Duncan, Matilyn Shore, Becky Burns, Kylie Whalan, Molly Houk and Samuel Stokes. Third row, Joshua Welker, Dominic Wickware, Chuck Buck and Gregg Burn.

Dr. Samuel Stokes, an alumnus of Smith-Cotton High School, premiered the original musical “EBENEZER,” based on Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol,” on Saturday Dec. 1 at The Music Studio of Warrensburg in Warrensburg.

Stokes is a teacher of music at Middle Lab School and the music composition and arranging instructor for Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.

The Music Studio of Warrensburg, owned by artistic director James Duncan, opened in 2016 and provides music and acting lessons to students of all ages.

There have been a few different musical versions of “A Christmas Carol” over the years, but “EBENEZER” uses a blend of traditional Christmas carols and hip-hop.

“The kids really enjoyed the mix of traditional carols with modern rap style,” Duncan said. “We all had fun with working the raps out.”

Duncan said the biggest challenge was to get the cast to speak in the more antiquated style of English used in the script.  

Stokes said he “…really wanted to stay true to Dickens and maintain as much of the original dialogue as possible. Even in the rap verses, I incorporated as much of the original text as I could, but of course took liberties to make them fit the rhythm and rhyme schemes.”

Stokes, who graduated from the University of Central Missouri with a Bachelor of Music in 2002 and a Master of Arts in 2005, was excited to return to Warrensburg for the first time in many years.

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