Each year in December, Ebeneezer Scrooge gets as busy as Santa.

This year, the old boy is showing up locally in musicals, one-man shows, community theaters and on television.

But one production that may not be on your radar is "The Gospel According to Scrooge," a Christian spin on the Dickens story being mounted by the Abundant Life Assembly of God church in North Salt Lake. (Call 801-292-8617 for information. Tickets are $4.)

The show's a musical, with carols and some snappy new songs added in. A few characters have been juggled. The Cratchits here are devout Christians, and Scrooge simply can't understand their cheer.

"The less I give him," he says of Bob, "the happier he gets."

On Christmas Eve, instead of ghosts, Scrooge is visited by heavenly messengers who point out the error of his ways and take him on a tour of his sins.

"It's time you came to the light," one says.

In the key scene, the old boy finally surrenders, telling the Lord, "If you'll have me, I'll put my life in your hands. Give me one more chance and I'll serve you."

Ebeneezer gets his second chance and comes through.

The show is a heartfelt piece of work that's getting more and more play around the country each year.

Not everyone, however, is on board.

Some critics say Christians took a light and lovely cautionary tale about greed and turned it into a Bible-thumping sermon.

Fans respond that Dickens was himself a Christian (remember he wrote "The Life of Our Lord" for children) and the author actually laid the true Christian message of his story between the lines to make it more universally accepted.

I say the show is a cheery Christmas bulb that deserves a place on the tree.

Comment on this story

In the past century "A Christmas Carol" has been reinvented more times than the wheel. There's Bill Murray's modern-day take in "Scrooged" and Disney's famous Mickey Mouse twist, to name two.

But like relatives on Christmas Day, there's always room for one more.

And "The Gospel According to Scrooge" does get to the very heart of the Christmas season.

Besides, in our selfish little world, any production that shows a resentful soul becoming a person of service is always worth the price of admission.

EMAIL: jerjohn@desnews.com