?ABOUT A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Charles Dickens’ classic and beloved Christmas tale had its first stage adaptation (A Christmas Carol: Or, the Miser's Warning! by C. Z. Barnett) just weeks after the novella was originally published, premiering at the Surrey Theatre in London, England on 5 February 1844.
Glendale Centre Theatre’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol is the longest-running adaptation in theatre history. An original musical adaptation written and directed by Tim Dietlein, it originated in 1964 and celebrated its 50th anniversary of consecutive shows in 2015.
There have been hundreds of theatrical versions of A Christmas Carol over the years, including the 1994 Broadway musical adaptation, A Christmas Carol: The Musical, with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens. The show ran at The Theatre at Madison Square Garden, New York City yearly until 2003 and was filmed for television in 2004. It has featured Walter Charles (1994), Terrence Mann (1995), Tony Randall (1996), Hal Linden and Roddy McDowell (alternating) (1997), Roger Daltrey (1998), Tony Roberts (1999), Frank Langella (2000), Tim Curry (2001), F. Murray Abraham (2002), Jim Dale (2003), and Kelsey Grammar (2004) in the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
It is Christmas Eve and the seventh anniversary of the death of Jacob Marley, business partner to the old, embittered, and miserly financier Ebenezer Scrooge. Scrooge is working in his counting-house with his clerk, Bob Cratchit when his nephew Fred walks in. Fred greets Scrooge with a "Merry Christmas" and invites his uncle to Christmas dinner, to which Scrooge retorts "Bah! Humbug!" and declares Christmastime fraudulent. Fred is followed by two charity collectors, who receive equal dismissal from Scrooge when he tells them that the poor laws and workhouses provide sufficient care for the poor and suggests that if the poor would rather die than access those measures, it would be welcomed by him as a form of population control. As the day draws to a close, despite grumbles from his boss about theft, Bob Cratchit is allowed by Scrooge to take Christmas Day off work. He is told, however, that he must come in early the following day. After Cratchit leaves, Scrooge closes up, leaves the counting-house to sup at his usual tavern before heading home, to the former residence of his late partner, Marley.
Scrooge has taken up residence in only a few, mainly unfurnished, rooms of the house and keeps them almost entirely without light or heat so as to avoid spending money. The rest of the house, meanwhile, has been let out as offices. As Scrooge unlocks his front door, he sees the apparition of Jacob Marley upon the door, rather than his usual door knocker. Having entered the house and begun to climb the stairs, he sees a locomotive hearse, lunging before him up the stairs in the dark. Once he settles by his fireplace to eat some gruel, he sees Marley’s face once more in the carvings on his mantelpiece. At that precise moment, all the bells in the house begin to frantically chime. Once the cacophony of bells abruptly stops, the sound is replaced by a clanking noise, making its way from Scrooge’s cellar, up the stairs towards him. The specter of Jacob Marley’s ghost passes through his bedroom door and stops before him. Marley explains to Scrooge that he appears as a warning of his imminent ill fate if he does not change his cruel and selfish ways. He tells Scrooge that since his death, he has been damned to wander the earth penitently, shackled by chains and objects symbolic of his miserliness. Marley is convinced that Scrooge’s fate will be worse, as he has lived an extra seven years of contemptuousness towards his fellow man. He announces that Scrooge’s only opportunity to rectify his terrible fate is by the visitation of three more ghosts, who will appear to him one by one that night. Although clearly unnerved by Marley’s visit, Scrooge dismisses him as a hallucination brought on by indigestion and prescribes himself a good night’s sleep to rid him of these worries.
Soon enough, Scrooge is awoken by the local church bells chiming midnight and the first of the promised ghosts appears. He declares himself the Ghost of Christmas Past and has the simultaneous appearance of both an old soul and a youth. Scrooge is led by the ghost into his past memories of life as a child. Both happy and sad, he sees the formative moments of his life, including his boyhood neglect and abuse at the hands of his father (which moves him to tears), his later choice to prioritize his business over his fiancé and his subsequent loss of her love, and the death of his sister – the only other person that showed him love and kindness. Disturbed by the unbearable pain and regret of these memories, Scrooge covers the ghost with its own cap and it disappears.
Scrooge awakens again one hour later, as the clock strikes one. Over fifteen minutes pass and he wanders the house to find the Ghost of Christmas Present in the room next to his, dressed in a green-furred robe, holding a torch and an empty scabbard. The being takes Scrooge to see the Cratchit family on Christmas Day. The family is destitute and their poor, lame child, Tiny Tim, may see an early grave if the current status quo is maintained. Scrooge is touched by their cheer and by Tiny Tim’s plight, causing a change of heart. During their Christmas dinner, the family raises a toast to Scrooge. Drawn onward by the spirit, he then witnesses the party that he was invited to by his nephew, Fred. Amongst the dancing and the games, it becomes clear to Scrooge that Fred believes in the potential for change within his uncle, which gives Scrooge hope. Finally, the ghost shows him two orphan children who come to huddle under the ghost’s robes. The lamentable pair are named "Ignorance" and "Want" and represent the ills of the world. The Ghost of Christmas Present warns Scrooge that the former of the two is particularly dangerous before he vanishes as the clock strikes twelve once more.
The final of the spirits to visit Scrooge is the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come. A voiceless entity, robed entirely in black and completely hidden, save for one, pointing hand, he terrifies Scrooge beyond anything he has seen thus far. He devastates Scrooge by showing him the Cratchit family as they mourn Tiny Tim. He also shows Scrooge’s own lonely and humiliating death and funeral, and the contemptuousness of those around him upon his death, including those who would rob his grave. He realizes that his fate in this vision, and the fate of Tiny Tim, can be altered if he dedicates himself to a reformed life.
Scrooge wakes in his own bed on Christmas morning, thrilled and relieved that his piteous destiny has not been sealed. Immediately, he sets about righting his wrongs; he orders the biggest turkey in the butcher’s shop to be sent to the Cratchits, he meets with the charity collectors to give them a notably large donation, and he spends the rest of Christmas Day with his nephew, Fred, and Fred’s wife.
As time passes, the name Ebenezer Scrooge becomes synonymous with generosity as he makes good on his word and strives to embody the spirit of Christmas in his daily life. He becomes close with Tiny Tim, as he not only lives, but grows into a healthy and happy young man.