BRATTLEBORO >> Vermont Theatre Company brings Christmas cheer to downtown Brattleboro once more with its second annual production of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, adapted from Dickens' original story and directed by James Gelter. It is a highly faithful adaptation which pulls text and dialogue directly from Dickens' original novella.
"There are countless stage and film adaptations of A Christmas Carol," says Gelter, "Each with its own spin or variation on the story. And while Heaven knows I love The Muppets version, the original novella has always held a special place in my heart, so I tried to keep Carol as true to Dickens' original text as possible, with changes only made to accommodate a theatrical format."
"Audiences responded to this true-to-Dickens approach with such enthusiasm last year," he added, "That we felt compelled to bring the production back." Old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, played by Jon Mack, is given the opportunity to reexamine his life, his priorities, and his heart through the visitation of three magical spirits. He travels to the past, present and future on an introspective journey. Why has he become way he is? How can a person share the love inside them? Is there any love in the world for him? He must change his ways and do his best to bring joy to a world that faces constant, life-threatening hardships, in order to save his soul from a heavy penance, and to save the life of an innocent child.
Scrooge's journey is set in a cold dark world filled with despair, misery, and death. In Dickens' time, it's estimated that nearly half of all funerals in London were for children under the age of ten and the average mortality age was 25. Dickens, along with with many of his peers, felt the the relatively small Christian holiday of Christmas could serve a much larger and more secular purpose, which was to break the cycle of greed, isolation, and classism that ran rampant through England at the time. To that end, Dickens culled a story from personal childhood experiences and in December of 1843 published A Christmas Carol. The book is generally considered one of the greatest influences for the restoration of the Christmas holiday and it has never been out of print.
"Tradition is not what keeps A Christmas Carol popular a century and a half later," says Gelter, "Unfortunately, it remains popular due to it intense relevancy. Dickens' ideal world in which poverty and hatred amongst classes is eradicated has not been realized. But his story lives on as a message of hope, of redemption. Could a soul as lost as Ebenezer Scrooge really be brought back to the light? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, it is in our best interest to hope he can, and to do all we can to help him."
The story's numerous adaptations include opera, ballet, radio plays, audio recordings, films and stage. In less than a year after the book was published as many as 12 theatrical productions were playing in London. Wikipedia lists 30 large-scale theatrical productions between 1974 and 2010, 22 films since 1901 and just as many TV adaptations, not counting the numerous pastiches performed on The Jetsons, The Odd Couple, WKRP in Cincinnati, Family Ties, Doctor Who, Barbie in a Christmas Carol, and more.
Famous Scrooges over the years have included Lionel Barrymore, Orson Welles, Basil Rathbone, Alec Guinness, Jonathan Winters, Charles Laughton, Tony Randall, Hal Linden, Roddy McDowell, and of course Patrick Stewart's one-man show of A Christmas Carol which first opened in London in 1988.
VTC's production of A Christmas Carol is directed by James Gelter and Jessica Gelter, produced by Michelle Page, and features some of the areas finest actors. The show opens on Thursday, December 10, and runs for two weekends, Dec. 10-13 and 17-20. Thursday through Saturday performances are at 7:30 P.M. and Sunday matinees are at 3:00 P.M.
Tickets are $15 for adults and $12 for seniors and students on Fridays and Saturdays, and $12 for all on Thursdays and Sundays. All performances will be in the Hooker-Dunham Theater, 139 Main St. Brattleboro, Vt. If you donate a non-perishable food item on Thursdays, admission will be $10.
Reservations are highly recommended and can be made by calling 802-258-1344 or by email at: email@example.com.