When it comes to “A Christmas Carol,” can there really be anything new under the solstice sun? After all, part of the appeal of Dickens’ perennially told tale of redemption during the holiday season is revisiting it, year after year. The Belfast Maskers will take the familiar favorite and present it in, yes, a new way beginning the day after Thanksgiving.

The Maskers’ version is new to local audiences, but has been produced every holiday season for more than 30 years at the Cider Mill Playhouse of Endicott, N.Y. The adaptation was done by John Bielenberg (the elder), who founded Cider Mill and served as its producing director for 16 years. Now a resident of Belfast, Bielenberg is bringing the show to his new home.

This “Christmas Carol” was created as a fundraiser for Cider Mill and that reality shaped many aspects of the adaptation.

“We paid our actors, as a semi-professional company, so it needed to be a small cast and a single set. It’s part storytelling, yet fully acted,” said Bielenberg a week before the Maskers opening.

The adaptation’s conceit is a clever one, given these parameters. Actors headed for a rehearsal of “A Christmas Carol” stop by to sing a few carols at a fellow performer’s home. There they find a heartbroken young girl, sick in bed and forbidden by her doctor to attend their production of the Dickens tale. So right there in her bedroom, the players improvise her very own “Christmas Carol,” filling in for missing actors and using the contents of her attic room to contrive costumes, scenery and props.

Bielenberg has made a career of designing theatrical sets, a career he recently compressed into the PechaKucha format at Rockland’s Lincoln Street Center for Arts and Education. He holds degrees through doctoral in theater and was chairman of the theater department of the State University of New York at Binghamton (now Binghamton University) from 1976 to 1992. He is a professor emeritus at Binghamton and still designs two productions a year for its theater.

When it came to designing the set for that first Cider Mill Playhouse production, however, his standards were not the highest. The show was a fundraiser, after all, so he used scraps of discarded scenery from previous shows.

“It’s like, ‘If I knew I was going to live so long, I would’ve taken better care of myself.’ Thirty years later, they’re still using the same set down there,” Bielenberg said.

Up here in Belfast, Bielenberg began working on the “Christmas Carol” set as soon as he finished the Festival Stage, a portable, re-usable stage for the Maskers’ outdoor summer productions. The one-scene “Carol” set could not be built with the standard 4-by-8-foot flats usually employed. Bielenberg said it recreates the attic bedroom of an old Victorian house, “not unlike the top floor of where my grandchildren live in Belfast.”

The set was done by start of rehearsals, leaving Bielenberg free to concentrate on directing — that was the plan, anyway. A relatively sparse turnout at auditions meant rethinking the casting. Bielenberg ended up playing Scrooge, a role he performed for many years in the Cider Mill production.

“It’s been about 10 years since the last time. I thought I’d retired from the stage,” he said.

The production has pulled in a number of actors new to the Maskers and some who have appeared only a couple of times before, including Madison Hemingway, who plays the sickly child. This character also gets into the multiple-role aspect of the show in that she ends up sitting in, literally, for Tiny Tim who, Bielenberg pointed out, is one of the story’s most famous characters “but it’s amazing how little he actually does.”

“She’s a little old for the part,” said Bielenberg of Hemingway, “but she is so good you couldn’t not use her.”

Other actors in the show are Amber Karr, Angelina Nichols, Christine West, Jay Rosenberg, Randy Nichols, Sonia Vazquez and William Nelson. Judi Erickson stage manages and Charlotte Herbold is the show’s producer. Tom Sadowski designed lights and sound for the show. The light board will be handled by Dorothy Wilson, and it’s a lot to handle.

“There are a lot of light cues. The theatrical lighting reflects how she [the child] perceives the story as it unfolds,” he said.

Bielenberg’s “Carol” is not a musical but does employ music, some traditional Christmas music and other pieces to enliven the story. A week out, Bielenberg said he felt good about the show. His only regret, he said, was that it would close several weeks before the Christmas holiday itself.

While his adaptation is geared toward children, it does not compromise the wonderful language of Dickens’ original novelette — some of which, Bielenberg admitted, flies over the little ones’ heads.

“It’s the real Dickens. An advantage of this version is that it allows us to use the marvelous descriptions” to set up the scenes, he said.

While Dickens’ timeless tale and his distinctive relating of it obviously forms the core inspiration for this adaptation, Bielenberg admitted there was another influence.

“I’ve always really liked ‘The Wizard of Oz’,” he said, referring to the 1939 MGM film. “I love the idea that we see these people first and then we see them become the characters … We do that here too,” he said.

The Belfast Maskers’ “A Christmas Carol” will preview Friday, Nov. 26, at 7 p.m. at the Maskers Waterfront Theater, 43 Front St. The run continues Saturday, Nov. 27, at 7 p.m.; Sunday, Nov. 28, at 2 p.m.; Thursday and Friday, Dec. 2 and 3, at 7 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 4, at 2 and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 5, at 2 p.m.

Preview tickets are $8. For all other performances, tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for teens and $5 for younger children. Tickets are available at Yo Mamma’s Home on Main Street; at the box office an hour before performances; or via credit card at 338-9668.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.