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Characters from the books of Charles Dickens will enliven a night of Christmas holiday feasting and entertainment Dec. 9 and 10 at Southern Utah University.

"A Dickens Holiday Dinner" will be presented as a scholarship fund-raiser for the university's music department beginning at 6:30 p.m. each night in the Steve Gilbert Great Hall of the R. Haze Hunter Conference Center. The dinners will feature Victorian period performances by many of SUU's music students."We wanted a special Christmas celebration on campus, so it was decided to go back to the time of Charles Dickens, author of `A Christmas Carol,' and borrow characters from his books," Carol Modesitt, an assistant professor of music at SUU, said. "The students become these characters and portray them throughout the evening."

Each of the two feasts will start with a "wassail hour" to be followed by a full Victorian meal and performances of several yuletide choral numbers and an appearance by the university's brass ensemble.

Menu for the meal will feature such period delicacies as hand carved prime rib of beef or Cornish game hens, traditional Yorkshire pudding, English trifle and flaming Christmas pudding.

Tickets to the holiday extravaganzas are $18 for a Cornish game hen feast or $20 for prime rib. Reservations can be made by contacting Michelle Mull at 586-7775 by Dec. 8.

"All this extravagance of music, merriment and feasting will be presented in a hall ideally suited to a celebration of the spirit of Merry Olde England," Modesitt said. "The closing presentation will be based on Dickens' Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. The Ghost of Christmas Past will, for example, bring the poetry and music of past ages into the hall.

The Ghost of Christmas Future will be quite convenient; he will carry the music of our present day back into Dickens' time for the performance.

"The idea of this whole affair is to go into the past and bring back with us that sense of warm holiday spirit that we associate with the Victorian Age," Modesitt explains. "We've put together a very entertaining evening; it will be a great way to kick off this holiday season."