It was raining yesterday, not snowing, but all of New Jersey received some Christmas news from Princeton’s McCarter Theatre –their legendary production of A Christmas Carol is coming back in December.
The play, adapted from Charles Dicken’s 1843 book, has been the holiday wonder of the season in New Jersey for over forty years. I have watched it for dozens of years, one production better than the last, one Ebenezer Scrooge better than the previous, one 19th century London set more lovable than the last. It’s here again. Let’s sing and dance and cheer and reach for some eggnog.
A Christmas Carol, gone for the last two years, was halted by the Pandemic, as were so many other plays and holiday events.
My best memory of seeing the play was in the early 1980s. I took my son, then seven or eight, to it on a chilly week night in December. I left my seat to do something and walked through the lobby. There, through the big old wooden doors, I could see that it had just started to snow and the grounds around the old theater had started to turn white with it. My eyes widened. I rushed to find an usher because I knew it was near the end of the play and at the finish it snowed artificially on stage. I told him it had started to snow outside. He alerted the other ushers and they raced through the theater, flinging open all of the doors so the audience could see it snowing inside and outside as well. Whoa! What a moment!
Everybody knows the story. Ghosts take crotchety old Ebenezer Scrooge, the cheapest man who ever lived, on tours through his past, present and future. The ghosts remind him of the wonderful life he could have led, but did not because of his workaholic life and endless greed. He meets up with employee Bob Cratchit’s wife and family and that adorable, but dying, kid, Tiny Tim. Can Scrooge change himself and save himself? Can’t we all?
Oh, it’s just terrific.
The play will be basically the same as always and, I’m sure, bring the same Christmas cheer to its 2022 holiday audience as it always has.
I’m happy about the holiday play’s return for several reasons. First, it’s good to have the old chestnut back again. Second, it’s a great play. Third, maybe its return signals a start to the end of COVID, which not only cancelled last year’s show, but this year COVID’s omicron variant cancelled numerous performances and sickened a lot of people (me included).
So three cheers for Ebenezer Scrooge, good old London, little Tiny Tim and the ghosts of Christmas.
And three cheers for the folks at McCarter for bringing back this gem.
PHOTO: Greg Wood (center) and members of the 2017 A Christmas Carol ensemble. Photo by T. Charles Erickson.