Theatre Tuscaloosa's 2016 return to "A Christmas Carol" turned out so merry, the group reunited much of the same cast and elements for its 2017 version, with tweaks and additions to the mix.

Jeff Wilson's masses of flowing white hair and muttonchop sideburns stretch even longer and wilder, as the veteran steps into Ebeneezer Scrooge's penny-pinching loafers for the second time. Wescott Youngson and Carol DeVelice assay the jolly Fezziwigs; George Thagard writhes back into Marley's chains; Grace Conner must again break young Ebeneezer's heart as Belle; Mac Hackney and Rhonda Wooley return as the beleaguered Cratchits; and Tara Trent and Ernie Turley will again bring music to life on stage.

The creative team's also veteran: Tina F. Turley directs, with Wheeler Kincaid designing the rolling, flexible bedroom set, lights set by Richard Dunham, and costumer Jeanette Waterman outfitting the blessed every one in Victorian garb, Father Christmas greenery and ghostly pale lights. The company's using the Romulus Linney script, same as 2016, one that hits all the highlights without diverging into each of Dickens' side tales. It's a don't-mess-with-success scenario.

As to tweaks, Kincaid's crafting projections, like last summer's "Ragtime" production, to expand the scope and variety of Scrooge's inner and outer landscapes: London cityscapes, long hallways, trees and snow. Theatre Tuscaloosa's production keeps all the ghosts, visits and memories within Scrooge's bedroom, though the scrim and moving pieces rolling on create Scrooge & Marley, the Cratchits' home, parties past and present, and that ominous tombstone and graveyard ahead.

"Always staying in the room keeps its sort of tight," Turley said. "It's all in his head, to a certain extent, or you can imagine it that way."

A handful of familiar faces step in this year, such as Charles Prosser for the Ghost of Christmas Present, Porsche Kemp as the Ghost of Christmas Past, and David Cordell as young Ebeneezer. Jake Whipple played Tiny Tim in 2016, but doubled in size, as boys will, so he's back, but as boy Scrooge, and a beggar. Wearing the leg brace and crying "God bless us, every one!" for 2017 is 4-year-old Avery May, debuting in a role his uncle, Dylan Riley Snyder, played years back for Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre: He's walking with his uncle's prop crutch. Tuscaloosa native Snyder's been working professionally, from Broadway to Los Angeles, since he was 10.

"I just like it," said May, despite having to stumble along with an encumbering leg brace. Whipple's helping coach the lively boy on playing sickly, though the metal brace helps with the hindrance.

"That boy sings 'Silent Night,' and there is not going to be a dry eye in the house," said Bradley Logan, who's playing Scrooge's merry nephew Fred. "He sits on that stool and you can hear him to the back row."

After playing immigrant filmmaker Tateh in summer's "Ragtime," Cordell's back as young man Scrooge, at the entrance to Bah Humbug land.

"It's the moment where he drastically changes," Cordell said. "He's tired of arguing. He's gotten down on his knee to propose (to Belle), and she's walked away."

Conner plays Belle believing her Scrooge was a good man, albeit misguided. Her attempt at getting Scrooge to renounce greed for love doesn't end the way either would have liked.

"He thought he was doing the right thing by Belle," working hard to be a provider, Conner said. "She just realized he loved money more than her."

"If he was a softer person," Cordell said, "he might go back the next day and say 'I'm sorry.' But he moves on from that moment and never looks back."

Until, of course, Wilson as old Scrooge revisits young adulthood, and the lost love of his life.

"He chooses not to be with Belle," Wilson said. "She opens the door and says 'You love money more than me.' He says 'Yeah?'"

In flashbacks, Cordell and Wilson worked to closely mirror each other, so that as young Scrooge and Belle are dancing, the old skinflint's matching his younger dance moves, re-experiencing the past as if it was still happening to him. The Ghost of Christmas Past asks him why he's smiling.

"To me, that's the whole show," Wilson said. "She's like 'What's up, Scrooge?' He realizes, right then: He had been happy."

Kemp steps into the lighted skirts of Christmas Past to take Scrooge on a magical history tour.

"Tina told me to take more of an older way about it," she said. "There's a little mischief there, time to time, but I think this take will be interesting."

Wilson laughed: "She's the meanest of them all!"

Logan debuted in "Ragtime," so "Christmas Carol" is his second show with Theatre Tuscaloosa, as nephew Fred presenting the argument that Scrooge's bitterness isn't genetic.

"He is one of the most cheerful, kind-hearted people around," Logan said. Fred invites his uncle to a party; of course Scrooge doesn't show. Christmas Present insists Scrooge watch as others mock his dark heart, but Fred remains consistently loving and forgiving. "Christmas oozes out of his every pore. ... His first line's 'Merry Christmas.'"

"I feel like many people take ('Christmas Carol') for granted," said Conner, who in addition to returning as Belle, also plays one of three hags, "because everybody knows it so well: It's about Scrooge, he becomes a good person, and that's it."

But that is, of course, why it's so long been a tradition: Like "The Nutcracker," or "It's a Wonderful Life," or even "A Christmas Story," it's a familiar old haunt for the holidays.

"It ain't Christmas until Dickens, in my brain," Wilson said.