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God bless ’em, every one 

So many versions of A Christmas Carol, so little time

A Christmas Carol could be billed as “the story that saved Christmas.” Charles Dickens initially wrote his “Ghost Story of Christmas” to pay off a debt, yet the slim volume proved an instant success, selling 6,000 copies within a week of its publication in 1843. Literary historians have argued that over the long term, Dickens’ book helped revive Christmas traditions from a decline in early Victorian England.

The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge has gone from rescuing traditions to becoming a tradition in its own right, with constant interpretations on stage and screen, including versions with Muppets, Bill Murray, Susan Lucci and Rowan Atkinson’s Blackadder. Arguably, Frank Capra’s classic 1947 film, It’s a Wonderful Life (getting a theatrical staging at Dahlonega’s Holly Theatre), simply Americanizes the story, turning miserly Scrooge into Mr. Potter and bestowing the supernatural visions on Jimmy Stewart’s archetypal small-town underdog, George Bailey.

More than any other holiday play, A Christmas Carol helps fill the stockings of playhouses and keeps them viable through tight economic times. You can’t tell the Scrooges without a guide, although this overview only scratches the surface; missing are Roswell’s Kudzu Playhouse and Woodstock’s Towne Lake Art Center. Our apologies.

EXACT TITLE A Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol A Broadway Christmas Carol
VENUE The Alliance Theatre The Shakespeare Tavern ART Station
THE APPROACH Multicultural holiday jamboree mixing classic Christmas carols, African-American gospel, Dickensian costumes and expensive stage effects, adapted by David H. Bell Intimate, subdued production in appropriate English tavern setting A musical take on Dickens unified by Christmas-themed parodies of familiar Broadway show tunes
NUMBER OF
YEARS STAGED
17 7, counting the company’s previous “storyteller” versions of the show 2
NUMBER OF
ACTORS
23 8, many in multiple roles 3
SCROOGE Chris Kayser Drew Reeves David Silverman
TINY TIM 8-year-old Tendal Jarrett Mann Grown-up Matt Felton Grown-up Geoff Uterhardt
Prominent song “Joy to the World” ends an evening that features 16 Christmas songs. “Deck the Halls” The show-stopping “Ebenezer!” sung to the tune of “Oklahoma!”
When & Where Nov. 24-Dec. 24. The Alliance Theatre Co., 1280 Peachtree St. 404-733-5000. www.alliancetheatre.org. Dec. 7-23. The Shakespeare Tavern, 499 Peachtree St. 404-874-5299. www.shakespearetavern.com. Nov. 24-Dec. 23. ART Station, 5384 Manor Drive, Stone Mountain. 770-469-1105. www.artstation.org.

 

EXACT TITLE The 1940s Radio Hour A Christmas Carol A Christmas Carol
VENUE Theatre in the Square Theatre on Main (formerly Cobb Playhouse) The Renaissance Project
THE APPROACH A World War II-era live radio show featuring a funny, compressed version of A Christmas Carol as a comedic centerpiece. Basic, straight-up Dickens adapted by Margaret Raether for Acworth’s historic downtown Basic, straight-up Dickens adapted by Michael H. Cole and staged at the Cathedral at Chapel Hill
NUMBER OF
YEARS STAGED
25 — but this will be the last one. 4 Previously produced in 2001
NUMBER OF
ACTORS
11 19 20
SCROOGE Luis R. Hernandez Barry Hopkins Michael H. Cole
TINY TIM The play-within-the-play doesn’t get that far. Nicholas Rowlands, age 8 5-year-old Caleb Grizzell
Prominent song “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” emphasizing the war-time relevance The production includes no singing The production includes no singing.
When & Where Nov. 12-Jan. 7, Theatre in the Square’s Alley Stage, 11 Whitlock Ave. 770-422-8369. www.theatreinthesquare.com. Dec. 1-23, Cobb Playhouse, N. Main Street, Acworth. 770-565-3995. www.cobbplayhouse.com. Dec. 1-10. The Cathedral at Chapel Hill, 4650 Flat Shoals Parkway, Decatur. 404-243-6937. www.renaissanceproject.info.


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