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OUT IN THE CROWD: Storyteller brings 'Radio Christmas' to Red Clay Theater

Tim Hall will stand alone on the Red Clay Theater stage.

As a storyteller, the North Carolina man is accustomed to giving solo performances, but this production takes his one-man show in a different direction.

In "A Radio Christmas," a show he wrote himself, Hall plays a small town radio DJ on air Christmas Eve reminiscing about the holiday.

In addition to his work as founder of Psalms of the South Preservation Society, Hall hosts an Internet radio program, "Crossroads," every Saturday morning. He got the idea for a play based on a radio show a couple of years ago. After writing the script, he performed it on air.

"I said, 'You know what? Why don't I take it on the road and basically do a one-hour radio program in front of people?'" he said.

During the show, Hall plays a few Christmas songs and tells stories of the mountain people who live in a region known as the Southern Highlands.

"I tell a story from somebody that's been away at war, someone who is an artisan, a wood carver," he said, "and then a story that's a family story about a young boy who remembers his grandpa."

After writing the play, Hall learned about an eighth-grader named Haley who was diagnosed with leukemia in March and after months of treatment is now in remission. A lunch benefit was being held in Hall's home of Bryson City to help Haley's family afford her medical treatment. Hall contributed $20.

"I just felt like that wasn't enough," he said. "I've been through long illnesses and cancer with family and friends, and I wish I was younger and stronger to help them all. I do what I can."

While the original version of "A Radio Christmas" centered on the storytelling, Hall decided to write Haley into the script as the listener who calls in to the show when he decided he wanted to perform the play as a benefit in her honor.

"I was attempting to bring the mountain Christmas out, but then when I heard about Haley, I rewrote the play and she became an integral part of it," Hall said.

Haley calls in to the show, and audiences overhear Hall's side of the conversation.

"She has doubts now," he said. "Not only doubts about life but doubts about her faith and believing, believing whether she is going to get well."

One of the questions Haley asks is whether Santa Claus really exists.

"If she can believe in Santa Claus, then she can believe she is going to get well," Hall said, "and I answer that question."

Hall will present "A Radio Christmas" during two shows this weekend in Duluth.

Another one-man show

Also taking a stage solo this weekend is Aurora Theatre's artistic director.

Anthony Rodriguez will present the Charles Dickens classic "A Christmas Carol" through the art of storytelling, using voice and mannerisms to reincarnate Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmases past, present and future.

"A Christmas Carol" is in its final weekend run of a limited, three-week engagement with shows at 8 p.m. today and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. Sunday in the intimate 80-seat Gwinnett Federal Credit Union Studio. The Aurora Theatre is at 128 E. Pike St. in downtown Lawrenceville, and tickets are $12 to $15. For more information, call the theater's Box Office at 678-226-6222 or visit www.auroratheatre.com.