A Christmas Carol


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Peter Barnes

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Show Info Edit

Stage-Door's last show of 2001 was A Christmas Carol, the musical adaption of Charles Dicken's classic story, directed by Peter Barnes.

Classic Story Edit

A Christmas Carol is a Victorian morality tale of an old and bitter miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, who undergoes a profound experience of redemption over the course of a Christmas Eve night. If the experience doesn't change Scrooge's ways, he will end up walking the Earth forever being nothing but an invisible and lonely ghost, like his deceased friend Jacob Marley. Mr. Scrooge is a financier/moneychanger who has devoted his life to the accumulation of wealth. He holds anything other than money in contempt, including friendship, love, and the Christmas season.

Christmas Eve, seven years to the day after the death of his business partner Jacob Marley, Ebenezer Scrooge and his downtrodden clerk Bob Cratchit are at work in Scrooge’s counting-house. Scrooge's nephew, Fred, arrives with seasonal greetings and an invitation to Christmas dinner, but Scrooge dismisses him with "Bah! Humbug!", declaring that Christmas is a fraud. Two gentlemen collecting charitable donations for the poor are likewise rebuffed by Scrooge, who insist that the poor laws and workhouses are sufficient to care for the poor, and that "If they would rather die than go there, they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population." As he and his clerk prepare to leave, he grudgingly permits Cratchit one day's paid holiday the following day, but tells Cratchit he must be there the morning after Christmas all the earlier—otherwise, there will be a deduction from his wages.

Scrooge returns home to his cheerless rooms in an otherwise deserted building, and a series of supernatural experiences begins. His doorknocker appears to transform into Marley's face; a "locomotive hearse" seems to mount the dark stairs ahead of him; the pictures on the tiles in his fireplace transform into images of Marley's face. Finally, all the bells in the house ring loudly, there is a clanking of chains in the bed and on the floor, and the ghost of Marley passes through the closed door into the room.

The ghost warns Scrooge that if he does not change his ways, he will suffer Marley's fate, but Scrooge's fate would be even worse. He will walk the earth eternally after death, invisible among his fellow men, burdened with chains, seeing the misery and suffering he could have alleviated in his life but now powerless to intervene. Marley has arranged Scrooge's only chance of redemption: three spirits will visit him on successive nights, and they may help change him and save him from his fate. As Marley leaves, Scrooge gets a nightmare glimpse of the tormented spectres who drift unseen among the living, and now shattered, he falls into bed.

The Ghost of Christmas Past, a strange mixture of young and old, male and female, with a light shining from the crown of its head, appears at the stroke of one. It leads Scrooge on a journey to some of his past Christmases, where events shaped his life and character. He sees his late sister Fan, who intervened to rescue him from lonely exile at boarding school, and, recalling his recent treatment of Fan's son Fred, Scrooge feels the first stirrings of regret. They revisit a merry Christmas party given by Fezziwig, Scrooge's kind apprentice-master, and Scrooge thinks guiltily of his own behaviour toward Bob Cratchit. Finally, he is reminded how his love of money lost him the love of his life, Belle, and the happiness this cost him. Furious, Scrooge turns on the spirit, tries to snuff it like a candle with its cap, and finds himself crumpling up in his bed sheets and wakes up feeling remorseful.

Scrooge wakes at the stroke of two, confused to find it is still night. After a time, he rises and finds the second spirit, the Ghost of Christmas Present, in an adjoining room, on a throne made of Christmas food and drink. This spirit, a great genial man in a green coat lined with fur, takes him through the bustling streets of London on the current Christmas morning, sprinkling the essence of Christmas onto the happy populace. They observe the meagre but happy Christmas celebrations of the Cratchit family and the sweet nature of their "forgotten" son Tiny Tim, and when the Spirit foretells an early death for the child if things remain unchanged, Scrooge is distraught and wishes to change the future. He is shown what others think of him: the Cratchits toast him, but reluctantly, and "a shadow was cast over the party for a full five minutes." Scrooge's nephew and his wife, Clara, and Friends gently mock his miserly behaviour at their Christmas party, but Fred maintains his uncle's potential for change, and Scrooge demonstrates a childlike enjoyment of the celebrations.

They travel far and wide, and see how even the most wretched of people mark Christmas in some way, whatever their circumstances. The Ghost, however, grows visibly older, and explains he must die that night. He shows Scrooge two pitiful children huddled under his robes who personify the major causes of suffering in the world, "Ignorance" and "Want," with a grim warning that the former is especially harmful. At the end of the visitation, the bell strikes twelve. The Ghost of Christmas Present vanishes and the third spirit appears to Scrooge.

The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come takes the form of a grim spectre, robed in black, who does not speak and whose body is entirely hidden except for one pointing hand. This spirit frightens Scrooge more than the others, and harrows him with a vision of a future Christmas with the Cratchit family bereft of Tiny Tim. A rich miser, whose death saddens nobody and whose home and corpse have been robbed by ghoulish attendants, is revealed to be Scrooge himself: this is the fate that awaits him. Without its explicitly being said, Scrooge learns that he can avoid the future he has been shown and alter the fate of Tiny Tim, but only if he changes. Weeping, he swears to do so, and awakes to find that all three spirits have visited in just one night, and that it is Christmas morning.

Scrooge changes his life and reverts to the generous, kindhearted soul he was in his youth before the death of Fan. He anonymously sends the Cratchits the biggest turkey in the butcher shop, meets the charity workers to pledge an unspecified but impressive amount of money, and spends Christmas Day with Fred and his wife.

The next day, Scrooge sees his clerk arriving late and pretends to be his old miserly self before revealing his new person to an astonished Cratchit. He assists Bob and his family, becomes an adopted uncle to Tiny Tim, and gains a reputation as a kind and generous man who embodies the spirit of Christmas in his life.

Cast Edit

Ballon Lady - Heather Gearing
Hot Chestnut Men = Mike Gearing and Ron Mundy
Poulterer - Barry Lilley
Ebenezer Scrooge - John Covey
Bob Cratchit - Tony Makey
Fred - Dave Humphrey
Mrs. Gooheart - Christine Simpson
Miss Goodheart - Pat Stewart
Ghost of Jacob Marley - Tim Davis
Spirit of Christmas Past - Elana Healy
Schoolmaster - Brian Gill
Scrooge as a Boy - Oliver Mills
Fan - Laura Challenger
Mr. Fezziwig - Mike Gearing
Belle - Joy Covey
Scrooge as a Young Man - Barry Tinkler
Dick Wilkins - Fred Thompson
Mrs. Fezziwig - Mabs Taylor
Fiddler - Peter Barnes
Spirit of Christmas Present - Barry Tinkler
Ignorance and Want - Nicolle Wabe and Rosa Ayling
Crossing Sweepers - Mike Gearing and Ron Mundy
Holly Seller - Nicky Disney
Tiny Tim - Carly Makey
Mrs. Cratchit - Karen Perry
Peter Cratchit - Fred Thompson
Belinda Cratchit - Charlotte Challenger
Martha Cratchit - Kelly Challenger
Louisa Cratchit - Nicolle Wabe
Girl Cratchit - Bonny McGee
Girl Cratchit - Charley Hammond
Fred's Wife - Gaynor Rutter
Wife's Sister - Victoria Thompson
Topper - Peter Barnes
Spirit of Christmas Yet to Come - Gill Fleming
Joe - Don McCririck
Mrs. Dilber - Fiona Wabe
Charwoman - Micki Darbyshire
Young Poulterer - Fred Thompson
Girl - Rosa Ayling
Lady - Val Thompson

Crew Edit

Director - Peter Barnes
Choreography - Sherry Lorraine
Musicians - Michael Wooldridge, Phil Soloman and John McSweeney
Stage Manager - Ricky Davey
Crew - Derek Shaw, Martin Gearing, John Ives, Brian Perry and Bill Adams
Lighting - Brian Mercer
Props - Chrys Crinnell
Set Design and Construction - Ricky Davey and Mike Gearing
Rehersal Pianist - John McSweeney
Publicity - Micki Darbyshire
Wardrobe - Joy Covey and Christine Simpson
Posters and Programs - Joy Covey