The holidays will likely look and feel more-than-a-little different this year. Santa, though undoubtedly committed to his Christmas duties, will likely don a mask.
Some things, however, won’t change. We will still enjoy the warmth of a fireplace on a chilly winter night. We will delight in light displays and lawn decorations — from six feet away. And, we can head down to ASC’s Blackfriars Playhouse to experience the wonder of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.
That’s right: A Christmas Carol is back and, dare we say, better than ever. Jay McClure, ASC’s associate artistic producer, has been hard at work on a new adaptation, which he promises is “pure Dickens.” Specifically, this year’s adaptation takes inspiration from the extant prompt book which Dickens used for the one-man performances of A Christmas Carol he gave between 1852 and 1870 (McClure is quick to point out that curious parties can view a facsimile of it online at the New York Public Library).
Though some elements of this year’s adaptation might look different, the story remains the same. A grumpy and greedy man named Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three ghosts, who show him the consequences of his cold heart and convince him to open himself up to giving and receiving love. It’s a beautiful, heartwarming tale, but that doesn’t mean it’s pure fiction. For McClure, A Christmas Carol compels not because Scrooge is a fictional character, but because he is a realistic representation of a person who, after hitting rock bottom, finds a way to feel whole again.
“Scrooge is all of us,” says McClure. “Everyone. We hope we aren’t as nasty or isolated or uncaring as Scrooge — but Dickens, with the ghosts, tells the story to us, through Scrooge’s eyes. We need to listen.”
McClure affirms that, at its core, A Christmas Carol is about hope — something many of us are lacking lately. Holiday plans and traditions are changing this year, but Dickens reminds us that, through it all, hope triumphs.
“We all need hope,” he says. “We need to believe things can change. We need to believe we can change. We need to believe Tiny Tim will live.”
There will come a time when all is calm and bright again, but until then, McClure says it is up to us to “come together” and choose hope and love over fear and hate. If Scrooge can do it, we can too.
“We can be kinder,” McClure says. “We can be more generous. We can be brave. We can help make life a bit easier for our fellow humans.”
John Harrell plays Scrooge for the first time since 2010, accompanied by a stellar blend of ASC veteran actors. According to McClure, the combination of voices contributing to this year’s A Christmas Carol makes for an excitingly unpredictable outcome.
“One of the great things about theatre is that we won’t know exactly what it will be until we open,” he says. “But it’ll be delicious.”
We invite you to join us at the beautiful Blackfriars Playhouse for A Christmas Carol, beginning December 2. After all, it is still the most wonderful time of year and, as McClure reminds us, there’s no need to feel alone.
“Scrooge rejoins his community, we rejoin ours,” he says. “He emerges from his isolation, we emerge from ours. Safely, of course.”
Tickets for A Christmas Carol are on sale now. Visit our website or call 1.877.MUCH.ADO (1.877.682.4236) to purchase. Make sure to review our SafeStart protocols before returning to the Blackfriars Playhouse. Groups of four or more should call the Box Office to book their tickets.